In an earlier blog, we briefly discussed one-sentence character backgrounds and motivations and how they can be an effective way of summarising a character and providing plot hooks without the need for lengthy backstories.
So we move on to what I expect to be the final element of the Hack100 core rules – Non-player Characters (NPCs). By NPCs, I mean all the inhabitants of the game world encountered by the player characters whether friendly, indifferent or hostile, including creatures and monsters.
In keeping with the flexible approach that Hack100 adopts for Specialisms and Powers, rather than providing a standard list of potential friends and foes, I’ll instead present a methodology for quickly and easily creating any NPC. It follows ten simple steps, some of which are optional. The intention is to ensure that all NPCs are firmly rooted within the game world with clear rationales for their existence.
Whilst experimenting with layouts, the last release of Hack100 was formatted in a “classic paperback” style. This was intended to emulate the likes of the Fighting Fantasy, Maelstrom and Dragon Warriors books of the 1980s.
As an experiment with a different style of layout, I’ve written up the recent blogs on character improvement drawing inspiration from the “Old School Essentials Rules Tome” by Gavin Norman.
In most role-playing games, character progression is tied to adventuring, whether that is through the accumulation of experience points or the successful use of skills.
However, some d100 games (e.g. RuneQuest, Call of Cthulhu) have a secondary mechanism for character improvement, namely training in the downtime between adventures.
On the face of it, this seems plausible. Why shouldn’t study or practice be a route to improvement? However, equally, in the interests of an exciting game, training shouldn’t become the primary route for character development.
In the previous blog, we looked at how player characters improve their Abilities and Specialisms as a result of their adventures. However, over time, it is also likely that characters will want to acquire new Specialisms.
One way of acquiring a new Specialism is to seek out some suitable training or to undertake a programme of research. There should always be an associated cost for a character of doing this, whether that’s in terms of time, money and/or favours (as determined by the Referee). Locating a suitable teacher may also be an adventure in its own right.
In the classic d100 systems, the core mechanism by which characters improve is the “experience check”. When a character uses a skill successfully in a demanding situation, they earn an experience check against that skill. Then, at a point of the referee’s choosing, a test is made to determine whether the character learned anything through the successful use of the skill. This is done by attempting to roll more than the current skill percentage on 1d100. Success means that the character gains some percentage points in that skill. It’s an elegant system that reflects that inexperienced characters are more likely to learn something new from the successful application of a skill than grizzled veterans who have seen it all before.
Here’s Release 0.04 of Hack100. This now includes the most recent content relating to Powers.
I’ve also been experimenting with different layouts. I call this one the “Classic Paperback”, which is intended to capture the aesthetic of 1980s games such as Maelstrom, Fighting Fantasy and Dragon Warriors.
In drafting the recent blogs on Hack100’s Powers, it has become increasingly clear that there is the potential for substantial overlap between Specialities/Powers and the “Arcane” and “Spiritual” Abilities.
As a reminder, the Arcane Ability represents a character’s understanding of matters mysterious. Depending upon the setting of the game, this might include magic, the occult or highly advanced technology.
Here we continue our discussion of “Powers” in Hack100 – Specialities that are extraordinary or supernatural in some way – with a look at effects that temporarily transform a character. Some examples would be shapeshifting, lycanthropy or berserking. Such abilities may or may not be within the full control of a character.
As with our look at the use of spell casting in the previous blog, we’ll consider some illustrative examples.