Monday, September 05, 2016

Fantasy Hack m20

Well, after much delay, my complete "My D&D": Fantasy Hack m20, is complete.

How does this differ from other versions of D&D?
  • Mostly in that it's an m20 game, and therefore is build on the m20 chassis, which is a stripped down and greatly simplified rules-lite iteration of d20.  This is extremely rules-lite, even with artwork, some "administrative" pages, examples, and appendices with hex-crawl rules, optional rules, and GMing advice, its still only 48 pages long.  The actual number of pages of actual rules is probably only half of the document total.
  • It's got "Lovecraftian" rather than "Vancian" magic.
  • It's structured more like the B/X game; very specifically the Expert set, but with m20 rules.  This even includes a sample setting, or the seeds of one, not unlike "The Grand Duchy of Karameikos" from the Expert set, hex-crawl rules and tables, etc.
  • The tone is overall a bit more "dark fantasy"—Lovecraftian monsters make the cut as basic monsters, as do Gothic horror items and more.  Think Dracula meets Lord of the Rings in terms of basic setting assumptions.
  • I've also added some stuff from DARK•HERITAGE; mostly because, "why not?" I already had m20 rules in place for them after all.  This is more setting specific, but much of it is really only to be found in the Appendices.  I should point out that some of the race mechanics are updated here from what they are in DARK•HERITAGE or even CULT OF UNDEATH, which I did not expect to do... but I found that it was necessary to harmonize some stuff that I was mashing together.
While it could be used to play hex-crawls and dungeon-crawls (the former is more explicitly supported than the latter) it's not really designed for such.  In fact, the handwavey rules-lite approach that I prefer has much more to do with a rejection of the overly tactical and resource-management heavy aspects of the game that D&D naturally comes with as an extension of its past as a war-game.  What its explicitly designed for is to be a swashbucklery, fast-paced game that simulates, to some degree, the types of stories that are foundational to the genre (and even more explicitly to my specific tastes.)

Unlike some of my earlier ventures into m20 house-rules, this one is more specifically meant to emulate D&D, though—and what I would do if I were asked to run D&D for a group of complete neophytes who wanted to know what the hobby was all about; or if I were to run for long-standing players who shared some of my particular aesthetic tastes with regard to the game, rather than a more "derived" setting with more derived setting assumptions.  

Anyway, here's the document, in Google docs.  It should be readable without being editable.

And although it comes with a Character Sheet embedded in the document, here's another one that I actually like better.  For whatever reason, I couldn't seem to copy and paste into the document without screwing up the formatting, so I just made an alternate, and am keeping this one separate.

Is it a "fantasy heartbreaker?"  Absolutely.  In my case, though—it's a self-aware one that's only published online as a free Google doc rather than something that I've actually spent any money on thinking that I was doing something extraordinary.  No, I'm doing something that simply gratifies my own vanity and taste, and creates what I consider the ideal D&D game for me personally.  Thanks to the internet, the OGL, and years of designers; both professional and amateur, who've come before me, it's actually really easy to do so.

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