Monthly Archives: May 2016

Why Thundarr The Barbarian is Epic and Epitomizes How Minimalist/Rules-Lites are Fun and Viable

I just returned from a kick ass get together in Richmond, VA, dubbed WAYNECON!, with some truly awesome peeps!  I got to meet fellow games (and friends) in real life who I’ve been talking to for several years.  It was truly a kick ass experience.

Here’s some pictures

(Thanks to Bryan M for taking these pics (well Noah took the gangbang selfie)


Anyways during the festivities someone put Thundarr the Barbarian on the projector screen.  I haven’t seen this cartoon since I was a wee child, so for me it was like watching it for the first time.
I loved it.  It’s epic awesomeness and the adventures are amazing and totally fits with the type of games I like to run.

As I was watching Thundarr it really hit me how this show really hits the low mechanics/crunchy bits mantra for me.  The way I see it is each character has one ability (maybe two or three if you want a few) and that’s it.  It really puts the importance of the action of the story (or campaign) and the decisions you make that define your character and not the homogenous list of feats and spells.

This is why The Black Hack and Into the Odd resonate so well with me.  If I want crunchier I’ll go DCC or White Box.  I just like that simplicity and the freedom it gives.


Here’s the way I would break it down (and I’m gonna use Black Hack since that’s what I’m currently running/really enjoying).


Fighter: d8 HP/lvl

1 attack per level

Once per combat can deflect an attack, turning it into a failure.  If the weapon is a laser attack, roll a die and call even or odd- if you called the right result the shot is deflected back at the attacker for full damage.

Has Advantage on tests against Poisons and Diseaeses


Man-cat-bear-thing (race as class): 1d12 HP/lvl- claws d8 damage- can see in the dark (Nearby radius)

Super strong: Has Advantage on feats of strength for lifting stuff, breaking things, flexing muscles, etc (not attack rolls).

Once per hour can do impossible feats of strength and be awesome (IE. lift a huge pillar of cement/vehicle/rock/etc.) and throw it, push it, or whatever.  No roll needed.

Once per combat can ignore damage from a physical attack.

Princess Ariel

Sorcereress: d4 HP/lvl

Has Advantage on tests against magic and charm-like effects.

Can cast spells- keep it low magic (only up to 4th level, anything else is a ritual).

Then boom- you play and the adventures develop your character instead of “how many feats do I need to take before my character is a swashbuckler?”  Oh and I would add the thief class since people really enjoy that archetype.  I prefer this method of play.  I am not knocking those who enjoy Pathfinder, 5e, etc.  I just wanted to discuss how the simplicity of Thundarr, to me, highlights how a rule-light system is totally viable and can be exciting.

I mean in one episode of Thundarr they battled Amphibious Amazonians, a mutated giant spider, disarmed a nuclear weapon, battled a humanoid-shark lady sorcereress, and a kraken that fired ink lasers out of its tentacles… Not once was it about the long list of abilities that the characters can perform, but their actions and decisions in the situations they were dealt.

I would be remiss to not mention Chuck Thorin’s World of Durth that he is working on currently that is inspired by He-Man and all that kinda stuff!



Level Zero Funnel Rules for The Black Hack

I love the funnel process of Dungeon Crawl Classics!  It’s fun to see squishy meat bags die fun and messy deaths in an attempt to gain riches and reach their potential!  However sometimes I prefer lighter rules- hence why I hacked DCC’s rules for The Black Hack.

Just click the link: The Black Hack Level Zero Funnel Rules

I also want to give a shout out to Adam M over at Kickassistan for the cool idea of generating stats as you use them.

The Black Hack: Cyber-Hacked! On Drivethru RPG

My bad for not doing a post about this launching on Drivethru/RPGnow!


Art by Alex Mayo

Recently I released The Black Hack: Cyber-Hacked! on Drivethru.  I used the awesome light-weight Black Hack rules by David Black to create a gritty cyberpunk setting.  I thought it would be great to use to run low level Blade Runner/Cyberpunk 202o style games or even low level Shadowrun.  Too often I feel that cyberpunk games get lost in the minutia of the tech and it ends up becoming cumbersome and crunchy.  I created a die drop chart for hacking to make it more of a quick mini-game/exciting thing rather than just a few rolls.  People seem to be really digging it, with which I’m thrilled!

Vircades Project did a cool review of TBH:CH and what’s inside.

Also here are some reviews from Drivethru RPG:

Cyberhacked! is an awesome reskinning of the Black Hack. Mike Evans has really done a good job here, devising a simple mini-system for hacking that works quickly and feels exciting. He also gives you all the tables for cyber enhancements, weapons, vehicles, living expenses, and just the kind of stuff that always holds me back from just diving into a new homebrew game (now I have to create another list???). He’s done it for you. I definitely recommend this. (And the Black Hack if you haven’t checked it out.)


If you like cyberpunk at all, then you will love Cyber-Hacked! Mike Evans outdoes himself yet again! There should be grants given to individuals with such creativity. At $2, it is the deal of the century!

Feel free to check it out!  I do plan on writing up a full Cyberpunk setting in the near future, but gotta get Hubris and Land of the Spirits out the door first!

Aside: I got the final proofs back for POD of The Starrunner Kit– so once the last changes have been accepted at the printer, that’ll go live as well!

Hubris Cometh (SOON!) and the Klind March Across the Landscape of the Blighted Sands (some tasty art from Jeremy Duncan and Angie)

It’s been awhile since I’ve done an update on Hubris on the blog (mostly been doing posts to KS backers).

Hubris is coming along nicely!  Alex turned in a first draft of the layout to me a few weeks ago and I have been tearing through it looking for typos and errors and we are working on the final bits of art placement and what needs to be done!

The book looks fantastic and the art is amazing!  Seriously a big thanks to David Lewis Johnson, Jeremy Duncan, Alex Mayo, Jason Sholtis, Wayne Snyder, and Angie (my wife) for their amazing efforts and enthusiasm on this project.  I really scored big working with this crew!  Honestly- if you are doing a RPG book and need art (or layout- looking at Alex)- HIRE THEM.  These are solid folks who do amazing work!

We are hoping to have a version of the PDF out to backers very soon (within the next couple of weeks) and we’ll make some final additions during that time and then I’ll put it on Drivethru RPG while we get ready for POD!

Also I need to give a big thanks to Donn Stroud, Adam Muszkiewicz, Trey Causey, James Raggi, Chuck Thorin, Reece Carter, and Kelvin Green for all their interest, support, and feedback about the project!  It’s been invaluable, awesome, and I appreciate it!

I thought I would also put up some new art from Jeremy Duncan and Angie!

Here are the Klind!

The Klind (from the Blighted Sands)

KlindClassesfinal (1)

From left to right: Sex Prophet, Desert Striker, Priest, Flesh Weaver, and Venomous Red Scale

The Klind Empire; the invaders, the slavers, the deviants, the worshippers of the serpentine god, Set, have made their home in this horrid land.  They roam the lands of Hubris in their bio-organic suits using the knowledge of their flesh weavers to create abominations and gather more slaves and sacrifices to be offerings to their dark god.


Set trapped in his prison in the Void.

Sex Prophet: Init +0; Atk +0 as weapon, claws +0 melee (1d3 damage plus Luck Drain), AC 12; HD 2d4+1; MV 30’; Act 1d20; SP Luck Drain, Lust, Portend; SV Fort +1, Ref +2, Will +2; AL L.

Oracle, goddesses of the flesh, and temptress are all names given to these beautiful and dangerous beings.  All Sex Prophets are female and are held in high esteem, being blessed with rare abilities by Set himself.  Sex Prophets are the only Klind that do not don the culture’s bizarre bio-organic armored suits, instead wearing alluring and revealing outfits that entice others to enjoy the ways of the flesh.  In combat a target struck by a Sex Prophet’s claws must make a Luck check, failure results in1d3 Luck being lanced away from them (these can be regained at a rate of 1 per day).  Once per day a Sex Prophet can release a wave of maddening passion and lust in a 60’ radius. All in the affected area must succeed a DC 18 Will Save or collapse and writhe on the ground in a fit of passion and carnal pleasure until their next successful save.  Those that critically fail are driven mad, losing 1d3 Personality permanently and writhe on the ground for 1 hour.  The Sex Prophet feeds on the lust of her victims, allowing her to see prophecies of the future and replenishing her strength.  For every target that fails she regains 1d4 HP.  If the Sex Prophet is fully healed all additional 1d4 rolls are converted into 1 point of temporary HP.  Sex Prophets constantly see glimpses of the future as well as possible outcomes.  When a target lands a successful attack against a Sex Prophet they must also make a Luck roll- failure means that the Sex Prophet had foreseen the attack and was able to dodge out of harm’s way.  Critical successes always hit, the Sex Prophet cannot foresee everything…


Desert Striker: Init +3; Atk +3 Scimitar melee (1d8+2), +3 short bow ranged (1d6), AC 15; HD 2d10+2; MV 30’; Act 1d20; SP Bio-organic Armor Type III; SV Fort +2, Ref +2, Will +1; AL L.


Desert Strikers are the foot soldiers and trackers of the Klind Empire.  They are dedicated to the teachings of Set and to their High Priest.  Desert Strikers prefer to set up ambushes and strike targets unaware, often flanking their foes and pelting them with arrows (there is a 15% that a Desert Strikers has 1d4 arrows laced with Asp venom (DCC, pg 446).  Desert Strikers all wear Bio-Organic Armor Type III (see description below).


For every 20 Desert Strikers treat the leader as a level 2 warrior.


Klind Flesh Weaver: Init +1; Atk as weapon +2 melee, Serpent Staff +3 melee (1d6 and poison- DC 12 Fort Save or paralyzed for 1d4 rounds), AC 13; HD 2d6+1; MV 30’; Act 1d20; SP Flesh Weaving, Bio-Organic Armor Type I; SV Fort +0, Ref +1, Will +3; AL L.


The Klind Flesh Weavers are responsible for forming and growing the strange bio-organic armor that most of the Klind wear.  Aside from their armor looking slightly more ornate than most other Klind, it is their serpent staff that shows the Flesh Weaver’s station.  While not as skilled in combat as a Desert Striker or the elite Venomous Red Scales, a Flesh Weaver is able to hold their own by warping the flesh of their foes.  While growing the bio-organic armor takes extreme concentration and patience, the Flesh Weaver is able to use their abilities in combat.  If a Flesh Weaver concentrates on a target for 3 rounds, that target must succeed a DC 14 Fort Save or have some part of their flesh warped.  Roll 1d14 for effect: 1) Legs are fused together; 2) Eye lids are sealed; 3) Lips disappear; 4) Arms fuse together; 5) Arm fuses to abdomen; 6) Leg atrophies; 7) Arm atrophies; 8) Skin takes on melted appearance; 9) Skin melts away on arm, exposing muscles; 10) Lips are fused together; 11) Face becomes stretched; 12) Fingers become fused together; 13) Toes become fused together; 14) Skin melts away on face, exposing muscles.


The best of the Flesh Weavers are elevated to the station of Grand Weaver.  Grand weavers are treated as level 4 alchemists, are extremely rare, and held in high esteem among the Klind.  The Fort DC for their flesh weaving is increased to 20.


Klind Priest: Init +1; Atk bite +1 melee (1d3+1), as weapon +1 melee/ranged, AC 14; HD 2d6+1; MV 30’; Act 1d20; SP Invoke the Name (+5 check), Bio-Organic Armor Type II; SV Fort +1, Ref +0, Will +3; AL L.


Klind Priests bring forth the message of Set unto the masses.  They cast dark rituals and offer sacrifices to their deviant god.  Through the dark pact with Set, priests take on a serpentine appearance.  Their eyes become that of a snake, their nostrils mere slits, and their mouths thin and stretched with small fangs.  Priests are able to Invoke the Name of Set as a cleric would, receiving +5 to their roll.


For every 10 priests there is one level 1 cleric that resides over the den.  For every 50 members of the den there is a level 3 cleric.


Venomous Red Scales: Init +4; Atk as weapon +4 melee/ranged, Red Scimitar +5 melee (2d4+3), AC 16; HD 3d12; MV 30’; Act 2d20 plus bite 1d16; SP Poisonous bite, Bio-Organic Venomous Red Scale Armor; SV Fort +3, Ref +3, Will +3; AL L.


These elite Klind warriors are a terrifying sight with their armor of red reptilian-like scales that is covered in small barbs and hooks; their helmet resembles the head of a red asp of the Slithering Peaks.  Very few see what is beneath the helmet, and even fewer have lived to describe it.


To become a member of the Venomous Red Scales the initiate must travel to the Slithering Peaks and survive a bite from a Red Asp and then and take part in the Ritual of the Serpent, transforming them into a half man-half snake hybrid.


A Venomous Red Scale is able to deliver a bite attack that deals 1d6 damage.  Those struck by the bite must succeed a DC 18 Fort save or die.  If the target succeeds they suffer 2d6 Stamina damage and develop a high fever until healed naturally.


A troop of 20 Venomous Red Scales is led by the Serpent Head, a level 5 warrior.


Bio Organic Armor Info


Bio-Organic Armor Type I- Ignores 1 point of all damage, regenerates 1 HP per turn, target does not need to consume more than 1 cup of water every 8 hours, grants low-light and infravision 30’, can breathe in a sandstorm up to 1 hour.  AC +3, Check Penalty -0, Fumble die d8.

Bio-Organic Armor Type II- Ignores 2 points of all damage, regenerates 2 HP per turn, target does not need to consume more than 1 cup of water every 8 hours, grants low-light and infravision 60’, can breathe in a sandstorm up to 4 hours, can grow claws (1d4 damage).  AC +4, Check Penalty -1, Fumble die d8.

Bio-Organic Armor Type III- Ignores 3 points of all damage, regenerates 3 HP per turn, target does not need to consume more than 1 cup of water every 12 hours, grants low-light and infravision 90’, can breathe in a sandstorm up to 4 hours, can grow claws (1d4 damage).  AC +5, Check Penalty -3, Fumble die d10.

Bio Organic Venomous Red Scale Armor– Covered in barbs that do d4 damage to any target in a struggle with wearer.  Ignores 3 points of all damage, regenerates 4 HP every turn, target does not need to consume more than 1 cup of water every 24 hours, grants low-light and infravision 90’, can breathe in a sandstorm indefinitely, can grow claws (1d6 damage). AC +6, Check Penalty -4, Fumble die d12.

Land of the Spirits Group 2 Session 1 Recap- Saving the Princess of the Moon

Yesterday I kicked off a second campaign of Land of the Spirits playtest which uses the awesome Black Hack rules.  I was very excited because this group and I hadn’t gotten to play together in nearly a year due to time constraints, schedules, etc.

Group 1 session one recap and session 2 recap.


Omar- Human Shielded Warrior

Fletch- Clan of Tusk Shaman

Nate- Clan of Fang Hexer

John- Barnlig Twilight Blade

A well-rounded group!

Recently strange happenings have been going on in the land of Náttúraheim (Home of the Spirits); water turned to blood, people were weepy and mopey, food spoiled, animals were found on the roofs of houses, etc.  The races all believed it the work of mischievous Spirits… However on the night before the campaign started, the moon disappeared.  Something was amiss.

The group awoke in a strange and horrific looking room.  Sulfuric steam issued from vents while a thick milky-white mucous dripped from the walls.


The walls of the Glemt ruin

Crouching on a dais above them was a Spirit with the appearance of a goatman.  When the group came to and got their barrings, the goat man spoke.  He introduced himself as Baetram and that he was the guardian of the Princess of the Moon.  He then started sobbing saying that he only dozed off for a moment!  Just a moment, but when he came to the Princess was being dragged by something into these ruins!  When he entered he knew he was in a Glemt ruin!  He knows they hunger for Spirits, so he dare not go any further.

The name Glemt stirred a memory for Omar and John.  Omar recognized them as campfire stories that Spirits have told him while in Ny Berjastad (the human capital).  John recognized them as horror stories based, largely, on fact.  Thousands of years ago the Glemt came and began killing Spirits and absorbing their energy.  He didn’t know how or why they left, but they did.

Baetram pleaded with the group to go rescue the princess!  They asked how they got here and he said he used his magics to bring slumbering heroes to his aid and it worked!  Then the group asked what it was in for them- Baetram shook his head and bleated, “Can you imagine the world with no moon!?  Do you want that!  The moon is sad and will not come back without his wife!”  That was good enough for the group.

Thus the dungeon dive began

Glemt Ruin

Here is the dungeon I created for this


Black OozeFighting the black oozes was a good opener.  It allowed the players to get the feel of combat, take some damage, lose some armor points, and really see the simplicity of the Black Hack (also getting to try out some of their class/race abilities).


When they got to the Glemt Abomination- this freaked them out (yay) and they took a couple of good hits before Omar critically succeeded and dropped her!


The Glemt boss fight was fun!  It emerged from the shadows and threw a vial of green choking smoke.  It took two rounds for them to emerge from the fog to get to the Glemt.  The Glemt got two attacks a round and could cast terrify each round on a single target (I changed it from once per day, it just felt right to me).  The group took quite a bit of damage from the Glemt and Omar and Fletch spent time running away from the creature after failing their WIS test against the terrify effect.  Omar canceled it by channeling his spirit animal (the bull)- immediately canceling a fear effect 1x/day.

Finally Omar landed the killing blow on the Glemt.  The group had four pathways to explore- they decided to rest and inspect a shelf with several potions on it.

The group got vials of the following: choking gas, 2 healing potions, invisibility, and gaseous form.

After getting some sleep the group ventured down path three and found a pit with a flute in it.  John rescued it and it played a soft wavering note when in his hand.  He bagged it for later.

Then they went down path two and found… the Princess of the Moon!


She thanked them for rescuing her and begged to be taken from this place.  She whispered she never expected to see an actual Glemt!

They decided to venture down path 1 to investigate.  They didn’t detect any traps on the door and John opened it.  He failed is CON save and in a flash of light was reduced to ash.  The group sat there stunned by the sudden death of their new comrade.

Aside: The group succeeded in not finding traps, but this was a magical trap and I had noted earlier that only Detect Magic would find it…  So it sucked from the group- but it also highlights that the world is not built around the group.  I also had a note that the door could be safely deactivated with the touch of the hand of the Glemt… So John rolled a new character.  He stuck with Barnlig and is now a Spirit Master.  

The group made it outside the dungeon after that.  The princess thanked them for rescuing her and gave them her scepter, the Orb of the Moon.  When held it gave off a glow like a torch and protected the wielder from creatures and Spirits made up of shadow and darkness (gives Advantage on abilities of those creature types).

The Princess thanked them and then faded away.

Baetram apologized again for involving the group in his blunders and offered them a bag of 10 acorn-sized seeds.  He explained that that when thrown on the ground roots and vines will shoot up and hinder an enemy (movement slowed, and characters gain advantage on attacks. Lasts for 2d3 rounds before drying up). Baetram told the group that it is about 3 days travel from Nobbrelberg, the capital of the Spirits.  They should make their way there and see if there is a quicker way to get home to Ny Berjastad.  When they get to the capital they should seek out his friend, Jurfen- he’s a Spirit that owns a tavern and bathhouse called Steam of the Wyrm in the Dream District.  He may have some work or information.

With that he also faded away.

The group decided to make camp for the night and rest up.  As the group set up camp a light appeared in the night sky; looking up they saw the moon was back.  The trees of the Twilight Forest parted, allowing the group to see the beautiful full moon.  The Man in the Moon appeared, offered the group a smile and a wink and faded away.


We leveled up (the group liked how simple this was as well) and we left off.

It was a great session and everyone loved the simplicity of The Black Hack!  This is two groups that have really enjoyed this system!