From OSR to The Indie Hack: an experiment

I’m writing several games at the moment – which, of course, results in snail-like pace in terms of progression. But that’s how I’m wired, and that’s that.

What I’d like to try today is to convert a character class I wrote for one of my games (Darkworm Colt, an rpg based on Into the Odd) to Slade Stolar’s brilliant “The Indie Hack“. Let’s see how this goes.

First, the character class in its natural format:

Elven Berzerker
Feared in all the lands.
Faithful only to their savage gods.

You get: Elven Darkblade (1d8), Runes of Rage, Talking Skull of your Ancestor
Sample Names: Khorzak, Yonkath, Urhuuz, Gorgo, Rilukk, Bolar

What do you know about yourself?

HP
1
Rage is the gods‘ gift, so when you fight, there are no survivors. Ever. Make WIL save to stop the slaughter when there are still beings left. Failure doubles the damage you inflict.
2
Cold smile. Successful WIL test with Advantage to intimidate.
3
That tattoo on your forehead might be a demon.
4
Blood is life, so drink it from the skulls of your enemies. Regain d4 hp.
5
If anyone ever knows your true name, they gain the power to give you one order – once. 
6
You fight better with blades. Roll with Advantage for damage.


How would this look like in The Indie Hack?

Like so:



The Elven Berzerker 

You are feared in all the lands. The only ones you are faithful to are your savage gods.

Questions (answer 2): What is it your gods demand? What have you done to be feared? Who was the mightiest opponent you have ever sent to the Cold Realm?

Class Attributes: Tough [+1], Precise [0], Clever [-1]

Natural Aptitudes (choose 1): Intimidate, Endurance

Positive Details:
– Master of Blades (you can fight with any kind of blade) 
– Blood Drinker (Spell: drink some of the blood of a slain enemy and remove one hard detail) 
– Rage (Skill: Roll Clever challenge to stop fighting when there are still living beings near you; if you fail this challenge, you have to continue fighting, and you inflict double negative details till there is nobody left) 

 You start with: Elven Darkblade (Lifeless /5), Talking Skull of your Ancestor (Mute /3)

Darkworm Colt — an Epic Fantasy of Sword & Magic

I’ve been looking for a name for my new fantasy game. Didn’t find it, at first, but it was right there in front of my eyes, the whole time.

Darkworm Colt — an epic fantasy of swords & magic

This is not only the name of my blog, but also appropriately weird, hitting all the right notes. Darkworm Colt takes its inspiration from Bakshi films, Heavy Metal 1 and 2, and other 60s/70s/80s fantasy movies. It will will contain:

  • a system based on Into the Odd/Electric Bastionland, i.e., super quick and easy to handle 
  • 30 weird character classes 
  • 4 traditional old school character classes, with 
  • clerics coming in two flavors: traditional clerics and holy men/women/hermaphrodites. Clerics use clerical insignia (item-bound spells) to do magic, holy people use guru prayer beads that bestow a new temporary power upon their wearer every day. 
  • 300 spells (colluted from Chris’s list and Ben Milton’s knave) 
  • simple level-less magic system with magic dice a la GLOG 
  • probably tables to generate mood and appropriate descriptions

I’m pretty happy with how it’s developing at the moment.

Through the week with a Holy Man: details on the Cleric in my Into the Odd fantasy hack

I’m currently working on a game that uses the Into the Odd/Electric Bastionland rules, but transplants the action into the fantasy genre. Depending on your mood, you can either pick the “weird” classes the game offers, or stay traditional and play one of the backgrounds of the original D&D game: cleric, fighting-man, magic-user or thief.

When you decide to play a cleric, you have two options:

  • a) Play a traditional Cleric (uses item-bound spells, colored to fit their god)
  • b) Play a Holy Person (prays each day and rolls to see what special power their god grants them for the day)
Clerics start with one Holy Symbol (spell-item) and one permanent special ability, bestowed upon them by their god. Holy Persons choose to pick so-called Holy Numbers and intonate them properly. Then, they roll a d6 to determine what happens.
Let’s stay with a Holy Man for this post. 

He has STR 8 DEX 11 WIL 14 hp 2. He gets a blunt weapon (1d6) and armor 1. His god is a protective god. 

On day 1, he picks the Holy Number 7, rolls a d6 and his god grants him the ability to turn a target or himself immaterial for 1d4 rounds.

On day 2, he picks the Holy Number 5, rolls a d6 and gains armor 3 for this day.

On day 3 and 4, he picks the Holy Number 3, rolls a d6 and gains armor 3 for these days.

On day 5, he picks the Holy Number 7, rolls a d6 and his god forces a target to be spiritually fascinated by a piece of armor the Holy Man determines, effectively cutting any damage the target does does in half.

On day 6, he picks the Holy Number 8, rolls a d6 and, for this day, can either turn ten pieces of garment into Armor 1, or give ten targets Armor 3, or let ten persons resist poison successfully, or turn ten persons immaterial for 1d4 rounds.

On day 7, he picks the Holy Number 4, rolls a d6 and his armor and that of his companions permanently gain +1.

These results are all pretty generic. That’s intentional. The random effects still need to be dressed up in colorful description by the player. The Holy Man I wrote about here might see the effects of his god’s powers as divine light surrounding his body, while another Holy Man might be protected by the giant spiritual hands of his goddess.

Bottom line: I’m pretty satisfied with how the Divine Miracles of the Holy Persons work. More on this after playtesting.

Into the Odd fantasy game: Traditional class 2: The Fighting-man

Traditional Background: Fighting-man

You have learned how to fight.
You get: one-handed weapon (1d6), two-handed weapon (1d8, bulky), armor (1); In armed combat, roll 2 dice for damage, and take the result you want.
Sample Names:
Where have you learned how to fight?
HP
1
In the best warrior academy of the land. When you kill an enemy, you immediately may attack another opponent.
2
In the School of Shadows. Make a DEX test to avoid damage from a ranged attack. This counts as an action, and you may not attack in the same round.
3
In the School of Hardknocks. Your toughened body absorbs damage like 1 point of armor even when you‘re naked.
4
In the School of Divine Serpent Fangs. If you roll a 1 for damage, roll again and add the result.
5
In the back alleys of your town. In unarmed combat, when you are hit, ignore damage that‘s 4, 6, 8, 10 or 12.
6
In the Courtyards of Dirt. You‘re carrying a rotting disease (+1d4 damage after a fight is over, and 75 percent chance your opponent will be infected).

What you can play in my new game

Four days ago, I showed you the 30 classes/backgrounds for my new weird fantasy game based on Into the Odd.

Today, I’d like to show you four of them in detail.

Elven Berzerker


Feared in all the lands.
Faithful only to their savage gods.
You get: Elven Darkblade (1d8), Runes of Rage, Talking Skull of your Ancestor
Sample Names: Khorzak, Yonkath, Urhuuz, Gorgo, Rilukk, Bolar
What do you know about yourself?
HP
1
Rage is the gods‘ gift, so when you fight, there are no survivors. Ever. Make WIL save to stop the slaughter when there are still beings left. Failure doubles the damage you inflict.
2
Cold smile. Successful WIL test with advantage to intimidate.
3
That tattoo on your forehead might be a demon.
4
Blood is life, so drink it from the skulls of your enemies. Regain d4 hp.
5
If anyone ever knows your true name, they gain the power to give you one order – once.
6
You fight better with blades. Roll additional d8 for damage, take better result.
Fingersmith

Quick, agile and nimble.
Specialized in property relocation.
You get: Dagger (1d6), Backpack of Holding a Lot of Stuff, Long Rope, Hooks
Sample Names:
What inspires you to show your skills?
HP
1
High buildings, towers and cliffs – scaling them is what you were born to do.
2
Now I‘m here, now I‘m not: You can hide professionally.
3
When the henchmen of the guild are after your head.
4
When you move, only the cats and spiders hear it.
5
One of your fingers is a bone key. Sever it from your hand and open any lock. Once in your life.
6
Even the smallest, thinnest, most unstable surface is something you can walk or crawl on.
Stormtrooper

No kingdom, no empire, without mindless soldiers.
Comrades in arms, a force to be reckoned with. Weak when alone.
You get: Form-fitting armor (1), repeating crossbow (1d6 blast), mysterious locket with the picture of an old, bearded man in it.
Sample Names:
Why have you joined their ranks?
HP
1
To disappear. You have a shady past. Shady, and filled with people who hate you.
2
To become tougher: You may roll a WIL test instead of STR to determine if you‘re critically wounded. Once per fight.
3
To get away from a life as subsistence farmer. But at least, you know how to use plant-based remedies.
4
To be with company. 2 in 20 chance one of your comrade in arms shows up when you need him.
5
To afford university. Little did you know you have to be on active service for 10 years before you are allowed to study anything.
6
To silence the voices in your head. Oh, the voices! They tell you what to do, and sometimes you can‘t resist their commands.
City

Some people know all the streets and places in town.
Others have all the important contacts. 
But you. You. Are. The. City.
You get: Impromptu weapons you can find always and everywhere (1-3: d6, 4-6: d8), Concrete plate armor (1), a horse, a carriage, a tiny house that‘s bigger on the inside
Sample Names: Craswell, Shiverpool, The Blanks, Compound-8, Hopefalls, Dawnburg, Solitude
What‘s so frightening about you?
HP
1
You can crush their dreams and destroy their hope. Touch a victim and make them save against WIL to avoid total catatonia for the next (Level) rounds.
2
You know. You just know what they did. Make WIL test to remember.
3
You hate dirt. It makes you ugly. So much so, you have to spend hours every evening to groom yourself. Do this, or your stench demands a WIL save from everyone you meet to stay around.
4
You can make them or break them. Say who you want to help. Then roll. 1-3: make them roll 2d20 for a save and pick the better one. 4-6: make them roll 2d20 for a save and pick the worse one.
5
When you are with friends, they all somehow gain Armor 1 protection.
6
Where there was no street or no way around, there will be one. You are City.

Into the Odd: 30 backgrounds for my weird-fantasy game

Elven Berzerker
Fingersmith
Stormtrooper
City

Cult Henchman
Hunchbacked Mystic
Troll Cannoneer
Nine Heavenly Seas Navigator
Netherworld Barbarian
Slugman Noble
Ruler of a Forgotten Land
Dwarven Engineer
Panzer Templar
Beastmaster
Ornamentalist
Pig-Folk Witcher
Essence Collector
Spice Merchant
Necroscientist
Gnome Jeweller
Councilman
Brewer of Potions
Silver-tongued Preacher
Petty God
Ritual Grandmaster
Gourmand
Crab-Man Sherpa
Pandimensional Vermin Hunter
Slave-Master
Cloaked Rent-A-Sage