Kicking It Old School

How can old fashioned rules beat the glossy new sets?

I’m looking over a couple of games that I recently acquired which hale strongly to the rules released in the first decade of role-playing games, and I see a lot of interesting reactions to the one; some are giving it great reviews; some are taking the rules as a template to build games of their own that are now for sale.

I bought a game called The Anime Hack and found it was based on another game called The Black Hack. It is The Black Hack that has gotten so much attention and is serving as a springboard for games in a way similar to what happened with Fate Core or Apocalypse World. I’ll leave the reviews to better writers, but they are generally pretty positive. Mine would be, too.

So why this book and a bunch of works it inspired hitting the chords of opinion so hard? Why do I like it so much that I am willing to shell out my hard earned money for a whole shelf of them? I believe it boils down to three things:

  • Anything you do is rolled against your ability scores. Simple.
  • No long lists of circumstantial modifiers to count up; you have “Advantage”, “Disadvantage”, or neither. Simple.
  • It is easy to bolt on anything you like that is not in the book. Examples include races, classes, and different magic styles, for instance.

Also I can read the book and get the gist of everything in a lot less time than if I had spent twenty times as much on the glossy behemoth. I love the concept of the big shiny books a lot, and the art in them is generally gorgeous, but the simplicity, the malleability are better for my foggy brain to manage.



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