Fantasy Hack

Full document (Note: minor changes may lag behind updates to the posted rules above.  Also, this lacks most of the illustrations):

Explanation: The Microlite, or m20 system is a dramatic restructuring of the famous d20 System, which is the backbone of 3rd Edition Dungeons & Dragons.  In the case of m20, however, the design goals were dramatically different than that of the original.  Whereas d20 and is a very robust, rulesy systems, with volumes of rules to play with, m20 is only a few pages long.  It hearkens back to the way rules used to be back in the 70s, when we had the OD&D set, which was three little booklets of less than a dozen pages each.  Even ignoring the trajectory of AD&D and 3e, the more rules-lite versions such as B/X, etc. expanded on this small and humble beginning, following the paradigm that more is more rather than less is more when it comes to rules.

m20, then reverses that trend back to the OD&D levels—if not even further, perhaps—but does so not with arbitrary and arcane rules, but with rules that have the harmonic integrity and consistency of d20; but without most of the detail and subsystems and exceptions, etc.  I've used m20 before as the Recommended Rules set for settings I've developed and been very happy with the results.  FANTASY HACK is, then, my interpretation of m20 as an emulator of D&D itself, as opposed to a tool to be used in a setting that less resembles the default of D&D.

In part this is doable by interpreting the rules in the same spirit of "rulings, not rules" of OD&D, as highlighted by several OSR-themed personalities over the last few years.  In part, it's doable because the d20 system which makes up its basic chassis is consistent enough that it can be pared down sensibly more so than the original rules were able to be.  And in part, it's been done by a ruthless adherence to simplicity and rules-liteness as a design goal.  All m20 games should be avoided by players who really enjoy most the "games within the game" of resource management or tactical combat.  m20 supports those who are interested in collaborative story-telling, fast pacing, and adventure.  I'm almost hesitant to say that, due to the ridiculousness of game design theorists who have tarnished the notion of "story-games" but m20 is not some high-brow, self-righteous and smug artisan rules-set.  It's just simple, no nonsense, base minimum rules for gamers who don't really care for rules.

No comments: