Thursday, 12 May 2016

The Black Hack: Mini Review for a Mini Game

PDF: $2.00
Physical: £4.00+

Over the past few weeks my G+ feed has been raging about David Black's new game The Black Hack. "I don't need another system or clone", I told myself, "the hype will die down". But then I kept hearing good things and realised I had some publisher's credit on DriveThru RPG. The price-tag for the PDF is only $2.00, so I thought, "why the hell not?". I downloaded the PDF and began reading. It is only 20 pages long, which is astonishingly short for an entire system. I was immediately impressed.

The Black Hack is an innovative RPG publication. It reconceptualises Dungeons & Dragons, distilling it to its rawest essence, while offering some inspired rules variants. At times the simplicity threw me: "this can't be it?". But it is. I think the minimalism would put some people off, the spartan style is not for everyone. Those new to the hobby – those learning the game for the first time – might, I imagine, find the esoteric nature of the The Black Hack ruleset problematic. The writing implies that the reader has prior experiences with role-playing games. Having said that, it would be an excellent option for teaching the game to new players (assuming the GM has prior experience). Reading through the booklet makes me want to run a game. It is simple, elegant, and improves some of the flaws of D&D without forsaking what makes the game great. It would also be useful as an options booklet for existing systems. I could imagine using the torch/rations/ammunition rules in any edition of D&D: it's easier than the traditional way of doing things. If you are looking for an ultra rule-lite RPG, this is a great purchase. 

Buy it: if you like rules-lite systems.
Avoid it: if you froth over Runequest or Pathfinder.