Sunday, February 28, 2021


I've still been playing a lot of Deep Rock Galactic, and it has me thinking:

There are a lot of B/X hacks out there, and they've been getting increasingly weird.

Maybe there's room in the world for a B/X / ACKS hack that gets back to classic fantasy, but with the twist that the party is mostly dwarves, with The Hobbit and Dwarf Fortress as its primary sources and a dash of Warhammer's dwarves.  At low levels, you dungeoncrawl dwarven ruins to recover famed weapons and build a name for yourself.  In the mid-levels, you travel further afield to older and deeper ruins while you start accumulating a bigger company/tribe/sept.  At high levels, you found or reclaim a fortress and defend it from darkness.  Eventually it falls and everyone dies and then you start over playing as your old characters' cousins and you get to reclaim your fortress.

I think the sort of players who play dwarves all the time are usually fun players, so I think such a hack might attract a fun playerbase.  Dwarf players have an extravagance in their warfare which makes them more like Titans than Olympians; only they are on the right side, though it is not the side that wins.

It also tickles me to consider Human as a race-as-class. 

Classes that could be lifted from ACKS with small changes:

  • Vault dwarves:
    • Vaultguard
    • Delver
  • Hill dwarves:
    • Fury (or comparable "aggressive damage-oriented melee" class)
  • Halfling Burglar

Classes that I would want to create / rework:

  • Elf
    • Get sort of ranger / bard / cleric with it; ranged weapons, divine-ish spellcasting with themes of light, nature, healing, enchantment.  A lot like this but with less/no divination.
    • Cha, Wis, and Dex minimum ability score requirements should mean no more than 1-2 per party
    • There's precedent in Dwarf Fortress even
  • Human
    • Ye Olde Fighting 2 / HD 1 / Thief 1?
    • Horse-Men, Boat-Men, City-Men, and Hill-Men?
    • Maybe with a "Wisdom no higher than 16, because they're a young and foolish race easily corrupted by darkness" restriction?
  • Wizard
    • Maiar-style outsiders, not really mortal
    • Self-reincarnation (takes a month and you lose half of your XP, but you just won't stay dead.  No, wizards are not very filling, I see you dwarves of Clan Donner thinking about it)
    • Int, Wis, and Cha minimum ability score requirements to limit availability even further than Elf
    • What magic do wizards do, really?
      • Gandalf knows things -> Divination, Sensing, Detect, Augury, etc
      • Gandalf knows "people"
        • The eagles
        • Shadowfax
        • Elrond
        • Radagast
        • etc
        • So spells like Fellowship and Calling/Summoning
      • You shall not pass -> Sanctuary, Protection from...  Maybe abjuration more generally.  Dispel Magic, Counterspell, Antimagic Field are probably in scope.
      • That one time he lit pinecones on fire and flooded a river maybe.
      • Basically a lot like this but with less/no healing, more Calling animal friends, and divine-style "you know the whole list" rather than repertoire management.
    • Change up the spell list a little, swapping calling animals for summoning undead or demons and you have a great villain class, since they don't stay dead either.
  • So we have these two caster classes and neither of them have Big Spike Damage to solve encounters.  Maybe that's OK and you have to rely on doughty deeds of arms, or maybe we find a dwarfy way to solve this
      • I don't want to use Craftpriest because it's a priest and in both Tolkien and Dwarf Fortress, the gods are silent.
      • There's a runemaker class in HFH, but I don't really know that I want to deal with ceremonial magic.
      • It would be on-theme for the "big spells that solve encounters" to be in support of your fighters, ie buffs, but I hate the way that buffs usually work where they give small numerical bonuses that you have to remember to add.  Using big "qualitative" buffs would help here.  Ex Haste, Giant Strength, Invulnerability to Normal Weapons, True Strike, Swift Sword, Striking, Flaming Sword.  But these are mostly pretty high-level.  So there's this low-level gap, where we'd need spells that let low-level fighters win small encounters without doing it through small bonuses.  Tricky constraints.
      • Maybe some area-fear effects?
      • Bless tools
      • Making golems with the traditional "runes on the forehead"
      • Definitely do have repertoire management, and then a focus of gameplay is recovering lost runes to add to your spell list. 
      • Probably just Int as prime req
  • Is there room / sense for a second Hill Dwarf class besides Fury?  Something lighter, parallel to Delver, maybe with a focus on ranged combat?  Houndmaster / huntsman / herder / caravaneer / messenger?

To a certain extent, this project is "mining the Heroic Fantasy Handbook for good bits and then simplifying them".

1 comment:

  1. I like the way you’re looking at a world, it’s inspirations (Tolkien and dwarf fortress) and using that to inform and determine the gaming rule choices you make, especially what you’re including (and thus what is left out). This is (IMO) as it should be. Sounds like a very interesting idea.