Saturday, April 21, 2018

The Review Hack

Here are some quick reviews of rules light Post Apocalyptic Role Playing Games, primarily based on The Black Hack ruleset.

The WasteLand Hack by Feral Games
A quick, basic Fallout-style Black Hack RPG coming in at 34 pages. (Note, I only have the original, non-revised edition.)

Likes:
  • Probably the lightest rules version of a table top Fallout RPG.
  • Best survival rules (radiation, starvation, dehydration, sleep) of any Black Hack PA offering.*
  • Background and Class included.
Dislikes:
  • Barter system of currency (yet it uses "new Dollars").
  • Settlement system (good that this is included, bad that it is a very Fallout 4 settlement system...YMMV).
  • Minimal equipment/gear inclusion.
*With the exception of Rad-Hack's Radiation rules.
Overall, if you want to play Fallout on the table, this is a good, inexpensive option.

The Wasted Hack by Shattered Pike Studio (Aaron Frost)
A general post apocalyptic role playing game (PARPG) based on The Black Hack that clocks in at 102 pages.

Likes:
  • An actual table of contents.
  • Well integrated rules for features, mutations, and gear.
  • Pretty dang good leveling up system.
  • Some nice quick and dirty advanced enemy options.
  • Schematic weapons.
  • Decent equipment table.
  • Interestingly designed character sheet.
  • Monster Cards for quick reference.
Dislikes:
  • Classes only, one of which is a Race-as-Class, but still pretty limited option-wise.
  • Credits as currency. Better than barter or abstract systems, but not by much in my opinion.
  • Kinda limited weapon and armor selection.
  • Somewhat limited mutation selection.
  • Luck Points. I believe luck is in the die rolls and shouldn't be a game mechanic, but that's purely a personal preference.
  • The somewhat limited and fantasy-like monsters, even though this is expanded by Waste-Land Beasts and How to Kill Them.
  • Somewhat limited artwork that is average quality.
  • Too much wasted space in the layout, which expands the page count.
Overall, this is probably the best of the Black Hack PARPG offerings for game mechanics.

Rad-Hack by Karl Stjernberg
A general PARPG based on The Black Hack covered in 36 pages.

Likes:
  • Fairly good Class selection, though I do miss plants and cyborgs as options.
  • Slugs as a currency, it may also be ammunition, but it is still a better option than barter, abstract, or credit systems. About on par with gold/silver systems.
  • The artwork, I'd say Karl Stjernberg is one of the go-to artists for post-apocalyptic gonzo artwork.
  • Random professions on top of classes.
  • Fairly decent equipment list.
  • Equipment Degradation rules.
  • Nice Radiation effects table.
  • I like the interesting Creature Reaction table.
  • Vehicles and vehicle combat.
  • Fairly good selection of post apocalyptic creatures.
  • Great maps.
Dislikes:
  • Leveling Up system is kind of weak.
  • Limited Mutation, (Robot) Modules, and Psionics lists (this sort of limitation is quite possibly by design, but I prefer a LOT of options personally).
  • Limited armor and weapon examples, however, since these are examples of types of weapons, a slightly expanded selection (for example a d6 table) would have been good.
Overall, this is the best looking Black Hack PARPG offering, with quite a bit of good stuff that could be ported into The Wasted Hack. I'd personally recommend using the classes from here, along with the currency, radiation rules, vehicle stuff, and then just throwing in the creatures, gear, mutations into The Wasted Hack.

The Wastes Lite Post-Apoclapytic Roleplaying Game by JEN Games (James T. Kato)
A rules-lite PARPG, not based on The Black Hack, that comes in at 23 pages.

Likes:
  • The majority of this book is just random tables to work with, very minimalist, yet at the same time quite inclusive.
  • A d300 wasteland junk table.
  • Waste Adversaries and Waste Encounters are great minimalist tables which give you lots of stuff to play with.
Dislikes:
  • Probably the most rules lite game in this review, while this can be advantageous to some, I find the lack of rules for things like starvation, dehydration, radiation, encumbrance, currency, and so forth somewhat lacking in utility.
  • The 'mutations' and starting equipment are combined into one table of Character Advantages. A good selection of stuff (d100 table), but I would have preferred to split it.
Overall, The Wastes Lite is a pretty good minimalist toolkit that could be used for any PARPG with some work, as a standalone RPG, it is probably a bit too lightweight.