Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Hacking Old School Hack (Is Nothing Sacred?!)

Okay, so I've mentioned before that I really love the Old School Hack rules by Kirin Robinson.  But naturally I have the urge to tinker and fit it to my style of gaming.  I've been mulling over some ideas and was nudged into action by, of all things, the new Egyptian-themed adventure path for Pathfinder.

One of the things I want to change in Old School Hack is class-as-race.  It is a concept true to the early editions of D&D and valid enough as a game design approach.  But I find it too restrictive for player choice.  I wanted to separate race and class as in 3rd and 4th edition D&D.  I also wanted to recast the classification of talents as Constant, Focus, Arena, and Rested.  These four are clearly a neat borrowing from 4th edition but I was never comfortable with the "arena" concept.

Talent Classifications:

  • Constant: always available; can be used every round in combat
  • Focus: requires a focus action starting early in round and occurring later in round if not interrupted (these may also be additionally classed as Encounter or Rested)
  • Encounter: Once successfully used in an action scene, these talents can’t be used again until after a short rest (15~30 minutes) [or spend 1 AP in any subsequent round to recharge it].
  • Rested: These talents can only be used once a day, or at least until you get a meal and some decent rest (usually 8 hours) [or spend 2 AP when not in an action scene to recharge it].


Each character gets a race as well as a class.  Characters thus start the game with one talent from their class and one from their race.  Racial talents may each only be taken once and none may be taken as cross-race talents--unless the DM allows half-races, such as half-elves.  This particular selection of races includes several suitable for an Egyptian-themed game (or you can rename them and no one will be the wiser).

  • Adaptable/rested: arise rested with one free AP to spend [Special: since humans only have this one talent, they may take it up to three times]

  • Elvish Weapons/constant: +1 to hit with longbows or longswords
  • Feykind/constant: +2 to attribute checks to influence any fey creatures
  • Eldritch/encounter: +2 to saves against arcane magic

  • Dwarvish Weapons/constant: +1 to hit with axes, hammers, or crossbows
  • Heft/constant: can carry two extra heavy things, no problem
  • Iron Guts/encounter: +2 to Brawn-based saves against poison, disease, fatigue, etc.

Ubasti (cat people)
  • Nine Lives/rested: avoid loss of one wound by making a Daring save
  • Spirit Warding/focus: attempt to ward off a spirit with innate spirituality via an opposed Commitment check
  • Cat Landing/constant: make a Daring save with +2 to land safely from tripping, falling, jumping, or being thrown

Hathi (cow people)
  • Strong Like Ox/constant: carry one extra heavy thing and +1 to Brawn checks involving applications of muscle
  • Song & Dance/focus: with a short warm-up, entertain all creatures in same arena with a short musical performance; removes fear, sadness, grief, panic, and other negative emotions
  • Headbutt/focus: paw the ground, then bash headlong into target for +2 on Brawn check to break object or stun a creature

Sebeki (crocodile people)
  • Chomp/constant: those pearly white fangs aren't just for looking good; chomp on your enemies with a 1-wound/2d10 attack
  • Power Tail/constant: the broad sebeki tail makes for strong swimmers; swim and dash at the same rates as walking and running on land
  • Basking/rested: you may rest in the sun, preferably on a warm surface, and become rested in half the normal time

Anubi (jackal people)
  • Perky Ears/constant: Anubi have keen ears; +2 to Awareness checks using hearing
  • Bloodhound/constant: Anubi have keen noses; +2 to Awareness checks using scent
  • Friend of the Dead/rested: +2 to Charm or Cunning checks when influencing any undead

Sethi (cobra people)
  • Venom Fangs/rested: your fangs do little damage, but the venom they inject does 1 wound (victim gets a Brawn save)
  • Squamous/constant: scaly hides are tough; +1 to armor class
  • Speak With Forked Tongue/constant: you can communicate with any scaly creature

Thouti (baboon people)
  • Mageblood/focus: you have an innate connection with the arcane; may make an Awareness check to detect the presence of magic or gain +2 to resist magical effects
  • Scribe/constant: the Thouti are surprisingly scholarly; you can read and write two extra languages
  • Blue Buttocks/focus: square off and display your outrageously blue baboon buttocks; +2 to Daring checks to annoy, distract, shock, confuse, or otherwise psychologically discomfit any or all in the same arena
Next time I'll post my new 3E/4E/Pathfinder style classes.  So far I've got the Fighter, Thief, Cleric, Wizard, Paladin, Ranger, Barbarian, Dancer (Dervish or Houri), and Druid.  I'm also thinking about the Oracle, Summoner, and Alchemist.

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