Okay, so I've been laboring along in the background, on and off, on a WWI version of Old School Hack. I've found it tough going to go from a simple swords & sorcery fantasy game to a modern setting while keeping everything simple. Here is the intro, the six classes, and some other stuff.
Old School Trench: A Game of WWI Awesomeness
This game is a hack of the excellent Old School Hack rules by Kirin Robinson. Thanks also to Andrew Shields and his Fictive Hack version of OSH.
This game is based in a steampunk/supernatural fantasy version of the First World War in Europe. War between the Continental Powers rages on the continent itself and in their many colonial possessions. The shattered landscape is a seemingly endless battlefield littered with trench networks, bunkers, dugouts, barbed wire, poison gas, and corpses. There are also huge fortresses of concrete and steel, often linked together by tunnel systems. The heavy use of experimental poison gases created monstrous creatures who roam the landscape and infest the fortresses. In addition the restless aggrieved spirits of the departed are everywhere, expressing their angst and rage whatever way they can. Nevertheless the war between the Continental Powers drags on despite massive loss of lives and strategic stalemate. Dressed in gas masks and clunky metal armor and burdened with equipment, the characters struggle across the terrain and delve into fortresses.
Random Character Motivations (roll 1d10)
1. It was enlist or go to jail
2. For the Fatherland!
3. The enlistment bonus was great. Too bad that sargeant in the barracks was so good at cards.
4. Nothing really matters anymore
5. Your <friend/family member> is missing out here somewhere
6. It's fun to collect medals (your own or other people's)
7. You're going to come back a hero or in a box
8. The sooner you kill all the enemy the sooner you can go home.
9. I really, really hate ghosts.
10. All that matters is that we all make it back alive.
There are six classes in Old School Trench. The Stormtrooper is a heavy infantry soldier specializing in special trench and fortress assault tactics. They wear the heavy infantrie panzer body armor and lead the attack. The Colonial Askari is a native from a colony of a Continental Power, trained and equipped as a continental soldier but otherwise retaining most of your native culture. The Field Chaplain is a servant of the Church; lightly armed they minister to the soldiers and deal with the restless spirits of the dead. The Sister is a nurse trained by a religious healing order; she heals, deals, and toughs it out in a job few can survive. The Pioneer is a combat assault engineer, heavily armed and trained in the use of flamethrowers and explosives.
Starting Equipment: Basic kit; Mauser rifle, bayonet, grenades
Signature Item: infanterie-panzer armor
Limitation: Limited training; good with your basic kit weapons, but -1 with all others.
- DEADEYE delayed attack, usable once per arena
Any delayed attack you attempt to make with a Ranged weapon gets a +2 added to the attack roll if it's not interrupted by the Attack Turn. Outside of combat, as long as you aim for at least a minute at something that you can see, you will always hit it. You can initiate combat this way.
- TOUGH BASTARD constant ability
Getting beat up as often as you do has its advantages. You're tougher than most, and can take more punishment because of it. You start off with seven hit points instead of the usual five. Plus you've usually got some old war stories and a don't-mess-with-me countenance that gives you a +2 on any Charm check when trying to talk someone out of violence.
- WEAPON OF CHOICE constant ability
You've become adeptly familiar with a specific weapon of your choice, and you use it as a natural extension of your body. As long as you are wielding it, all your attack dice are Face Dice. If for whatever reason you take up a new weapon, a week of training will switch your Weapon of Choice to that one.
- TAKE COVER! rested ability
Countless close shaves have taught you how to find safety anywhere. You make a Daring or Cunning check at +2 to avoid any incoming danger.
- TRENCH FIGHTER. constant.
Any time you roll a 1 on the Face Die, you have pulled a dirty trick on your target. Maybe you hit them somewhere sensitive besides the face, or threw sand in the eyes, etc. Add +2 to hit or inflict +1 Wound, decide after rolling. (You may choose not to use this talent if in a “fair fight” because it violates whatever code of behavior applies.)
- INFILTRATE focused ability, usable once per arena
Despite their name, stormtroopers are actually trained to infiltrate enemy defenses, bypassing strongpoints to strike deep. If you win a Daring check against an opponent's Cunning you get +2 on your next attack against that foe for out-maneuvering them.
Colonial Askari (a colonial native trained as a Continental soldier)
Starting Equipment: Basic kit; Mauser rifle, bayonet
Signature Item: wicked native melee weapon (player creates)
Limitation: must be native to one of the colonies of a Continental Power (DM option: character can actually be a from the Continental Power but in disguise for some deep personal reason)
- CHARGER double action, usable once per arena
You're an expert at rushing in to attack. Once for every arena, you can make both a Move action and an Attack action in the same round, with a +2 bonus to the attack.
- NATIVE WEAPON constant ability
You are adeptly familiar with a wicked one-handed melee weapon unique to your native people. As long as you are wielding it, all your attack dice are Face Dice. Also, brandishing it threateningly gives you a +2 on any intimidate checks against non-Askari.
- TRACKING constant
Identify who or what was present, and where they went. Add difficulty for elapsed time, rain, difficult terrain, and so on. Can test Awareness to know one important fact about what happened or the state of those making the tracks. Can be opposed with Cunning if those being tracked are attempting to cover their tracks.
- CANNY PREY constant
Either a base Awareness test when none would be allowed, or +2 to a normal Awareness test, to detect traps and ambushes. You also know how to set traps, where they should be, and how they work.
- GHOST STRIKE arena only
Your culture is closer to the spirit world in everyday life. You know how to strike ghosts and spirits as though they were physical. You can use this with a melee weapon, a thrown weapon, or flame.
- SPIRIT FRIEND focused spell, usable only once after rested
A spirit of a dead soldier has somehow become attached to you. You can summon it with a few moments of calm meditiation and some kind words. It appears as a floating light source that follows your commands, including being able to shine as brightly as a torch or as dim as a candle. It can also guide you towards safety for a short while.
Starting Equipment: Basic kit; mace, Luger pistol
Signature Item: Chaplain's bag (holy book, candles, incense, silver holy symbol, etc.)
Limitation: Must adhere to the tenets of the faith at all times
- TURN UNDEAD focused spell, usable only once after rested
By invoking your god and displaying your holy symbol, you acquire a holy aura around you and those nearby. Any non-Minion undead must test their Daring against your Commitment (at a +2) to be able to attack anyone in your party, while Minions can't attack you at all. If you remain undamaged for three rounds of concentrating, you can disperse the aura outward, either destroying any one undead or group of minions in the same arena.
- AURAS OF EVIL constant.
Above and beyond simple malevolence in someone's heart, some places, things and people in the world reek of true evil, whether they are touched by fell gods or by demonic taint. You can sense this kind of greater evil by merely taking a moment and focusing, and by taking the time to make an actual Awareness check you may be able to discern the source or nature of the evil if it is disguised.
- BLESS WEAPON focused spell, usable once per arena
You can clutch a weapon and imbue it with divine essence at the cost of a little bit of your health. When touching a weapon, you must declare a purpose for its blessing, whether for something quick or for a long-term goal. Any weapon thus touched does an extra point of damage each time a successful attack is made with it for that purpose, but your character is permanently down a hit point. Once the purpose is reached or is declared unobtainable, the weapon loses its property and you get your hit point back.
- ARMOR OF FAITH constant
Field Chaplains do not wear armor, because faith is their armor. Gain an additional Awesome Point each time you fight in real danger without armor.
- PRAYER SERVICE rested
Pray with those faithful to your god for at least 5 minutes, and all of you get 1 Awesome Point. Have a worship service of a full hour, everyone gets 3 Awesome Points.
- ACHTUNG! rested
As a focus action (upgrade to move action), draw the attention of every eye in the area; for a few seconds, everyone stops talking and looks at you. For the next few minutes, your voice will project up to 1 arena in every direction per Commitment rating.
Starting Equipment: Basic kit; Luger pistol
Signature Item: Medical kit (bandages, pills, bottles of medicine, syringe, etc.)
Limitation: Female-only class
- I'LL BE FINE rested
Each point of Commitment allows you to ignore the fatigue of 1 sleepless night or the hardship of a day without food. When you can sleep or eat again, you catch up 2 points each day you get half of what you need.
- CONFIDANTE constant
If you can get a target talking, the target will reveal things the target didn’t mean to talk about. Every minute of conversation, test Charm against the target’s Commitment or Cunning. If you win, gain another useful statement or line of inquiry.
- IT'S IN HERE SOMEWHERE special item, usable anytime outside of combat
You have an extra, unofficial bag stuffed with medical supplies. Take 10 minutes to heal a wounded person for 2 wounds.
- HEALING ANGEL rested
Spend a focus action on an unconscious ally (not dying or crippled) to give the ally back a Wound and the capacity to rise and fight on next round. If treating a crippling injury right after the fight (less than 10 minutes after) allow another roll on the critical chart to possibly get less damaging result. Also, spending 1 hour tending the wounded counts as 6 hours of bed rest for the wounded, once between periods of rest. ?effects of spending an AP?
- LIFE OF FAITH rested
Schwester are not expected to follow the strict work of prayer required of monastic nuns, but some have embraced it. When you follow a strict regimen, including prayer at dawn, mid-morning, mid-day, afternoon, and evening, you gain 1 Awesome Point per your level the next morning.
- RESCUE DOG constant
You have a sympathetic, helpful animal companion with Wounds equal to your Commitment. While they are sympathetic, helpful, and more clever than most of their kind, they will not react well to abuse or being exposed to extreme danger while you are safe (unless they volunteer.) The dog wears a saddlebag type vest for carrying things which is stocked with medical supplies. The supplies can be used as a Rested action to provide an additional use of Healing Touch; each additional use per day beyond the first requires the use of an AP.
Pioneer (Assault Engineer)
Starting Equipment: Basic kit; flamethrower or MP18 submachinegun
Signature Item: Beilpicke (pioneer's pickaxe)
Limitation: Little experience with regular guns: -2 shooting Mausers or Lugers.
- NOSE FOR TROUBLE constant
Either a base Awareness test when none would be allowed, or +2 to a normal Awareness test, to detect booby traps or mines. You also know how to set them, where they should be, and how they work.
- FIRE IN THE HOLE rested;focus action
You can see load-bearing points and weaknesses in structures and machines. Test Awareness to make a plan to bolster or collapse the structure or machine. Do 2 extra wounds of damage to a structure or machine attacked after a successful application of this talent.
- MR. FIX-IT rested
You can fix it. Whether it is the engine on a tank, the wireless telegraph set, or a malfunctioning Maxim gun, you have the know-how to get it working again. Scale determines time frame; a boat or wall, 1 day per task. A gate or room, 12 hours. Wagon or door, 6 hours. Hinges or wheel hubs, 1 hour. Anything smaller, 30 minutes. Halve times with ideal conditions. Confronted with an unknown device, test Cunning to figure out how it works.
- I GOT THIS constant
You can carry 1 more Heavy Thing than your Brawn normally allows.
- SACK O' GRENADES focus action/constant item
You have a special sack full of stick-grenades slung under each armpit. As long as you throw carefully using a focus action you never run out of grenades.
- TUNNEL RAT constant
Your familiarity with them gives you a +2 to Commitment and Awareness checks inside of tunnels, trenches, and fortresses.
In Old School Trench weapons are grouped into classes. With most weapons you roll 2d10 to attack with it and cause one Wound if successful; some weapons use 3d10, and some do more than one Wound on a hit. They are also typed as melee, thrown, or ranged.
- Light Weapons (1 point of damage)
Smaller and quicker than other weapons but close ranged. Using a light weapon allows you to roll 3d10 instead of 2d10, ignoring the value shown on the lowest die. [Examples: Luger (pistol/ranged), knife, sabre, Beilpicke (pioneer's pickaxe), mace, axe]
- Reach Weapons [1 point of damage]
Anything which allows you to keep an enemy at a distance of several feet while you strike [Examples: rifle with attached bayonet, uhlan (light cavalry) lance, long chain, whip]
- Typical Ranged Weapons [1 point of damage]
You attack earlier in the combat order and can attack an opponent in adjacent and far arenas as well as the one you're in. [Examples: Mauser (rifle/ranged), Karabingranate (rifle grenade/ranged)]
- Heavy Weapons [2 points of damage]
More dangerous than most weapons, they do an extra point of damage if you hit. Some are ranged. [Examples: Maschinenpistole 18 (submachinegun/ranged), Stielhandgranaten (a stick hand grenade/thrown), maul]
- Very Heavy Weapons [2 points of damage (sometimes 4)]
Frickin' big and dangerous weapons, requiring both hands to use. They also do an extra point of damage; plus, beating an opponent's armor class by 5 or more does two extra points of damage. Some are ranged. [Examples: Flammenwerfer (flame-thrower/ranged), bundle of dynamite (can be thrown), Maxim (medium machinegun/ranged), Field Gun (ranged), aerial bomb]
Weapon Range Table
Luger Short (~15 meters)
Flammenwerfer Short (~15 meters)
Dynamite, tossed Short (~15 meters)
Stielhandgranaten Medium (~50 meters)
MP18 Medium (~50 meters)
Karabingranate Long (~200 meters)
Mauser Very Long (~500 meters)
Maxim Very Long (~1000 meters)
Field Gun Very Long (1000+ meters)
Basic Kit (all classes get one free)
Stalhelm helmet, canteen, bread bag, mess kit, gas mask, knapsack, blanket roll, entrenching tool, and a field manual.
- No Armor: AC 8
- Just a Stalhelm (helmet): AC 9
- Infanterie-Panzer (clunky steel body armor, including helmet): AC 12
Electric torch (flashlight)
Messenger Pigeon Basket (with 2 pigeons) and bag of seeds
Regimental Battle Flag
Rescue dog (used by medics; wears harness with red cross badge and medical supplies)
Animal gas mask
Whistle on a lanyard
Diary and pencil
Good Conduct Medal
Football (soccer ball)