28 thoughts on “Tell me about the forged in the dark hacks you are working on!”

  1. In Runners in the Shadows, some of what I mention here is implied through fiction, and some things are enforced more directly through rules. Deciding which is which is my main form of expression here. And my taste is driven largely by my design goal: to preserve Shadowrun lore as much as possible, maintain the integrity of the original Blades mechanics’ as much as possible, all while adding room in the rules for all this new fictional shiz.

    I did however manage to add a bunch of rules things: traits (as in The Things you get from being an elf, or a troll, etc). Different numbers of starting choices in character creation, to open up a system of build permutations.

    I also changed the core set of 12 actions (no Attune equivalent there), then created rules for the existence of 2 mutually-exclusive special (supernatural) actions – which some PCs can’t even roll.

    Secret arts. And special playbooks that only contain them, meaning they have zero “special abilities” on them. Then, rules for handling their exclusive nature. Example: how a PC loses access to the technomancer secret arts when they become awakened.

    Higher tech equipment with added rules for their viability and limitations (like how software can’t run without expected hardware, input, and output, for example). The tech necessitated new abilities and types for inventions (a given), but the interaction of exclusive, special actions with inventors also leads to “special” invention types that some can make – and others simply cannot. Like how you can’t make an arcane focus unless you are a magic user with the appropriate special ability.

    And a smattering of rules necessitated by the setting (fantasy future Earth). Rules for implants and load, since they are items which are “always on.” Rules for what happens in the new “weird” places (virtual reality, astral projection, etc). Rules for travel (now you can leave the city, or lie low – it’s just slightly discouraged in the rules). The list goes on..

  2. I made a one – shot hack about Santa’s Reindeers taking revenge against him, in a noir christmas setting.

    Since the characters are pre-generated (and there is no character evolution), i skipped a list of skill, and, instead, wrote a set of completely new skill moves.

  3. I have two hack projects going at the moment, on is Glitch in the System, a FitD hack where you play teenagers trapped in an MMORPG Video Game, and Fate / In The Dark a FitD hack where you play Heroic Spirits called as servants to fight for the Holy Grail in order to Grant your wish (set in the Fate universe).

    For GitS I added the mechanic of combos; every time you roll dice, you stockpile the 6s as a resource which is spent on using video game abilities later. You can combo different colours in your stockpile for different effects and can combine different abilities with your party to create bonus effects. I also added boss mechanics to simulate in-game boss fights.

    For F/itD I’ve streamlined it to last very short periods of one or two sessions. Ive also redesigned the dice mechanics to be much more PvP friendly. Killing another player “levels up” your character, some playbooks are “early game” focussed while others are midgame, some are late game and some do special things with certain resources. If you die, you become a Master and take a Master playbook of your choice.

    If you want to know any more just let me know 🙂

  4. First, sory for my english, it’s not my native language. I’m working on a blades hack about vikings in a low magic and steampunk Midgard. Flying drakkars, axe-bayonets muskets and stuff like that.

    I change some mechanichs, like the Harm & Armor system. I divided the action ratings in four atributes with 4 actions each one. I create a system with more “effects” (five) for the combat part. I like to show you, but is all in spanish rigth now.

  5. My current BitD hack project is an adaptation of my setting, The Blackwood, which is a mashup up Germanic folklore and high-flying wuxia action. Almost everything about the core BitD experience is at least getting reskinned in this hack but there are deeper changes too. At the moment, the most concrete work I’ve done is to develop new Attributes and Actions:

    Cunning (replaces Insight)

    – When you Hunt, you carefully track a target.

    – When you Slink, you conduct yourself in secret.

    – When you Study, you observe the situation and scrutinize details.

    – When you Tinker, you fiddle with mechanisms and components.

    Gallantry (replaces Prowess)

    – When you Battle, you engage a target in close combat.

    – When you Focus, you break the bounds of human potential.

    – When you Ruin, you unleash brute force.

    – When you Traverse, you navigate with skillful grace.

    Manners (replaces Resolve)

    – When you *Bargain, you trade obligations for power.

    – When you Defer, you cement your place in society.

    – When you Reign, you radiate authority.

    – When you Scheme, you manipulate to your advantage.

    The idea is that this is a feudal society, so the class hierarchy is much, much different from the opportunist Victorian ladder of BitD. The whole Manners attribute is all about survival within society (it also governs a lot of interactions with the fae, called “Elves” in this setting). And in the Gallantry attribute, “Focus” accounts for things like superhuman leaping ability, paralyzing strikes, absurdly precise strikes, etc. etc.

  6. Currently working on At Death’s Door, a hack focused on telling world romping adventure stories inspired by adventure fiction from the early twentieth century. It’s got an original setting steeped in occult mystery, new abilities and attributes based upon the ideals of a “polite” society, altered crew mechanics that center around the players responsibilities to a powerful patron, and new mechanics for world travel and for downtime activities that focus on narrating short vignettes of intrigue and action that may or may not focus on the PCs.

    I’m also likely to go back and do some work on my Mothlands setting which is a post futurist Bronze Age setting centered around the ecology and mysterious history of enormous predatory arthropods known as Moths.

  7. I’ve put it on hold until the new year, but I’ve been working on adapting the system into something that resembles From Software’s Demons/Dark Souls and Bloodborne games. The working title is obviously “Souls in the Dark”.

    It’s a fairly heavy handed hack at this stage, but I suspect I’ll strip and simplify some of the systems down the road. I’ve replaced Stress with Stamina, and expending Stamina doesn’t kick you out from the Run (or Score) but instead results in Harm. Take enough Harm and You Die (get kicked from the Run), awakening with a level of Hollowing (which replaces Trauma). Instead of collecting Coin you collect Souls, and Souls are used alongside XP for progression. Rather than a Crew sheet, the group shares a “Hub” that they can upgrade with Vendors and NPCs.

    From there it follows a lot of other Souls tropes, for example maxing out your Hollowing could be a good or bad thing depending on your character’s goals and motivations, and there will be ways of reversing Hollowing. The world and mechanics change drastically depending on the Age of Fire and the Age of Dark. I’ve gone ahead and over-complicated the combat system, but hopefully I can tune it into something elegant. Right now it’s a bit of a mess!

  8. Aaron Mouritsen My PvP rules are a work in progress and haven’t been tested yet but they go as follows:

    The player making the move that initiated the PvP has the initiative. They describe what action they take against the other player and roll an appropriate action rating.

    In PvP there is no effect level or position, all that matters is the dice result.

    On a 6, they do it and do not lose initiative. On a 4-5 they do it but pass the initiative to their target. On a 1-3 they fumble and pass initiative to their opponent.

    An opponent can choose to resist the PvP action. They describe how and roll an appropriate attribute. They take stress equal to the enemy dice result minus their dice result. If they score higher than their opponent, they regain that amount of stress.

    If a player chooses not to resist, then the action plays out as described by the player who had initiative. But usually it’s a battle to the last stress.

    If you run out of stress during a resistance roll in PvP, you lose the conflict. The person who has the initiative at the end of the fight gets to describe the coup de gras. This is important because if you lose initiative by rolling a 4-5 result then the resisting player can describe how you finish them off instead of you (meaning they could survive, make one final action, etc.)

  9. I’ve been letting it “rest” for a bit now. But I still keep coming back to retro-futurist sci-fi hack (think clunky late 70s tech and aesthetics) where you’re working to establish a human colony on an alien world. The crew becomes your colony that grows and becomes better established. I’m leaning towards removing the turf portion and replacing it with a set of “slots” for colony upgrades you can build (a solar array, a hydroponic farm to generate resources, a medical facility to improve recovery rolls). It’s been percolating for a while and I hacked around on playbooks and SRD stuff, but haven’t really been able to dig into testing it much yet.

  10. I’m slowly piecing together a hack wherein players hunt giant monsters from massive vehicles in a Mad-Max style desert. Rather than stress and trauma, characters have discomfort, which only resets when they make port. There’s also a bestiary, with each creature given a selection of rumors about its biology and behavior, in any given game, a group can choose which ones are true this time around, so as to provide variety, and somewhat curb characters not knowing a monster while the players already have its behaviors and weak points committed to memory.

  11. I’m working on three. High fantasy – “Blades in the Brokenlands” which has renamed some things, replaced heat with rep doing double duty (so entanglements are much more heroic) and added heritage (elves, dwarves, orcs, etc) that have a specific special ability.

    Live Fast is a modern hack. The straight modern is basically done, but I want to add an augmentation module for near future cyberpunk and a supernatural module for urban fantasy.

    Skies of Fire is a dieselpunk with airships. I am developing it with the authors of the awesome comic (Skies of Fire). We are putting a bunch of time into ship and crew mechanics and world building. Playtesting is going very well. I hope that the playtest version will be available in early 2019.

    In all three, I have been playing a lot with the claims map and tier progression.

  12. I’m making Neon Black, a cyberpunk dystopia RPG. Players play as hackers, suits, ex-soldiers, or savvy rogues in crews like mercenaries for hire, anarchistic punks, or even an ambitious start-up.

    Character playbooks have only 9 actions divided into 3 traits. Special abilities, items, and contacts are all locked behind credit levels (stash) so characters need to save money to access more powerful abilities.

    Heat is tracked via corporation rather than as part of the crew, similar to how it is used in Scum & Villainy. You are rewarded more xp and more cash for taking on corporate factions rather than underworld or civilian targets.

    Rep and crew XP are collapsed into the same thing. When you advance the crew 3 times and each member has the requisite amount of credit (stash) the crew advances in tier and can access more powerful abilities and assets.

    Lots of other small changes of course, and I’m still playtesting and iterating, but that’s where I’m at right now.

  13. I’m making a game called Slugblaster! You are teens who solder together rayguns, sneak into other universes, and hoverboard away from meta-terrestrials. Drawing from skater culture, DIY music culture, etc.

    I’ve playing around with a few rules changes /swaps:

    The playbooks are based on Attitudes, instead of skillsets. Do you have grit, guts, curiosity, heart, or chill? This determines your way of going about things, and is reflected in the special abilities.

    In addition to your attitude, you have a signature item or power, with its own advancement rules.

    In Slugblaster, you go on adventurers to get away from the stress of your homelife, so instead of stress and vice, I am working with a system of luck, trouble, and boredom. Do chores and homework to reduce your trouble, but don’t let your boredom get too high or you’ll do something stupid (sort of like overindulging).

    I’ve cut out the push and devils bargain rules (they are now special abilities for Grit and Guts attitudes, repsectively) and instead I’ve replaced it with a default “trick” system, for trying to look cool while doing something. Kickflip a chasm, hold your gun sideways, etc. Risky, but can earn you cool points, the main currency in the game.

    I’m also playing with a spend-based skill system, but it’s too early to know for sure if that will stick. Hopeful, though.

    Antimatter I think me and you should talk! Your game sounds amazing, and maybe we could put our heads together about teenager-life. I’m also interested in your boss monsters! My game has big monsters, too, I’d love to see what you’re doing with them.

  14. Mikey Hamm happy to discuss ideas anytime. The more inspiration I get, the better! The teenager life is something I’m struggling with. Originally I intended to have a Masks like system implemented where the teenager’s moods would modify their action ratings; but many of the people I talked to about that shot it down quickly. The option I’ve currently settled on is using teenage life as an exp trigger.

    Your Adventurer type determines your drive, your playbook determines how you go about achieving your drive, but your background/heritage is determined by you showing off an aspect of your real world self. If your background is “socially awkward shut-in” but your class is a talkative class then it can bring about some good roleplay moments to earn that Exp.

    Boss monsters are a pretty huge mechanical change and would require me talking about my combo system a little more in-depth. But I can go over what I have for this too if you like.

  15. Antimatter Nice! Yeah, I’m swapping background/heritage with “family”, where you pick what kind of household you live in. Strict, well-off, unstable, etc. I might leave it as xp trigger, but I’ve played with assigning small “racial bonuses” to the options, since things like “strict” would fairly naturally interact with Trouble system I’m using (sort of replacing Heat).

    What are you doing for vice? In my game, I realized that going on these adventures IS the vice for these teens. They are escaping home life, blowing off steam by hoverboarding in alien worlds. So it’s a reverse situation. So I’m sort of using Drive, too (calling it Need maybe) as my vice replacement. Are you bored, do you want attention, are you angry, etc? That’s the reason you do this. Need builds up if you don’t go on enough adventurers etc.

    And yeah, I’d love to hear about boss monsters. Your combo system is cool!

    So far, I’ve basically just thought about monsters as a series of clocks, a vulnerability tag or two, and a list of suggested complications that players trigger with bad rolls (Monster grows second head, monster attempts to digest your externally, etc.)

  16. Antimatter Oh also, how does downtime work in your game? The kids are still trapped right? So it’s in-game downtime, and not them unplugging or something, right?

  17. Mikey Hamm I was thinking of applying racial bonuses for a characters in-game race. More for flavour than anything. A Wolffang raced character would be better and sniffing scents and tracking for example, where elves can see in the dark.

    I’m toying with Vice at the moment because I’m experimenting a lot with Stress. I’m testing removing stress entirely (and thus the vice dta as well) and having my new Aggro mechanic replace it; and I’m testing keeping it as is and having Aggro be a thing alongside Stress. In the second scenario, vice would probably function in the same way as Blades, just reflavoured for the game. I’m also experimenting with the idea you mentioned of the game itself being their usual vice, but I’m not sure how to ballance this seeing as stress is mostly used in the gameplay anyway.

    Downtime is largely about the players making a home and standing in the new world. There’s going to be politics, relaxation, guilds, etc. And there’s also your standard downtime actions. Still working out the kinks but yeah it’s set in-game still.

    So for monsters in my game I’m using a token system (something I’m borrowing from Wushu). Monsters are represented by tokens; kill the monster, receive the token. A single token could represent a group of monsters or a group of tokens could represent a boss monster or strong elite monster. When you earn the token, the player who deals the killing blow keeps it and can use it later on. You can spend tokens for a variety of effects that can be useful during boss fights (where the odds are usually stacked against the players). Any leftover tokens become loot that the players sell for coin, rewarding them for overcoming the boss wothout needing to use them all. Typically, the difficulty of a dungeon is determined by the number of tokens in it.

    Bosses have a clock per token they are made up of. An important difference that the boss has is that his clocks are double-sided! When the players fight the boss, they fill the clock up, and once filled the clock flips, marking the start of an enrage phase.

    During the enrage phase, the boss becomes more deadly and harder to kill (reduced position and effect for the duration), but becomes vulnerable to a certain attribute (extra effect instead of reduced effect). Each player has a number of actions equal to the remaining tokens of the boss, and if they don’t fill the clock in that time, the boss unleashes a mechanic linked to that clock (something bad happens, like the boss growing an extra head, spawning minions, causing the cave to collapse etc.) And the clock flips back over (effectively healing the boss!).

    Players need to use combos containing that vulnerability to fill the clock. Filling the enrage clock awards a boss token to the players, which has unique effects of it’s own. Collect all the tokens, kill the boss.

    I’ve implemented mechanics to show token vulnerabilities before the clock flips too.

    It sounds complicated on paper but in practice it works and is very fun/stressful for the players haha 😛

  18. Antimatter I love this so much. I think it’s fine for this to be a big, crunchy centerpiece part of your game. The setting calls for it! And like you said, you can always cut other elements that don’t fit as well and end up with something with the same average complexity level as blades (if thats even you’re benchmark, which it doesn’t have to be.)

    Yeah, I’ll let you know how my “the adventure is the vice” take on this plays out. I think I have something that will work, but I need to test it.

    It sounds like you’re using physical chips for the tokens/clocks? That’s rad. Hopes to ship custom pieces with the final game?

    I love that token/poker chip thing from Wushu, too. I used it for a previous game actually. So fun.

  19. Mikey Hamm Yeah definetly using physical chips! I find players respond to them better and it’s quite fun to use poker chips for it.

    If the game ever gets published I’d consider making some custom pieces and boss tokens but at the moment it’s just a side project of mine that I intend to finish as a fan. I have no idea what the steps are to actually publish anything atm haha

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