[spacehack] the Freelancer (Venturer)

Being sick sucks.  Being sick for a month+ sucks a lot.  *sighs*

The following is a class I put together for my unnamed “spacehack” for The Black Hack 1e.  There’s a few references to bits from the Blue Lotus Hack (mainly “gifts” from the Mystic class); I wanted to leave them in for this post.  Markers and Favours can be found here.


Freelancer (Venturer)

Starting HP: d6+4
HP per Level/Resting: 1d6
Weapons and Armour: one-handed swords, daggers, crossbows, blunt weapons; gambeson, leather, chain
Attack Damage: 1d6/1d4 Unarmed or Improvising

Leveling Up: Roll to see if attributes increase, roll twice for DEX or CHA.

Special Features:

* Roll with Advantage when testing CHA to avoid charm effects, make a good impression, get the feel of a social scene, or find a buyer or seller.

* Wheel and Deal: In any given civilized (“civilized”) place, a Venturer can find a contact for making and breaking favours and promises; pick up a marker, get a favour, without needing to make a CHA test. These favours can and do get traded, though, like any others!

* Uncanny: Beginning at 1st level, a Venturer gains a single spell or gift of any kind, of level equal to 1/2 class level or lower. Another spell is gained at every level thereafter. A Venturer has slots equal to their Level and uses CHA for casting tests.

Replace any starting feature with one of:

* Oathpact: The Venturer may sign a contract with another being; if the terms are violated, the violator suffers catastrophe until the breach is made good.

* Worldwise: A Venturer rolls with Advantage when researching or otherwise seeking out a detail of history, world type, cultural quirk, or hoary tradition. They may discern the basic features of a world and its primary culture upon first encountering it.

* Rally The Troops: By giving up their own action in a given Moment — aside from a suitable rallying cry, splash of consecrated rum, or what have you — the Venturer may grant Advantage to an ally’s next action once per battle.

* Flurry: As part of their action, the Venturer may make 1 attack / 2 levels.

* Oh Captain My Captain: The Venturer may acquire a loyal minion (1 HD and some useful skill or knowledge) when visiting a metropolis or other centre of relative civilization. They may have a maximum number of minions equal to half their CHA. Mistreating or not supporting one’s minions can have Consequences.

Markers and Favours

The everyday functioning of any system and its network of ships, ports and adventurous wanderers depends on the give and take of services as much as — or more than — the flow of goods and coin. After all, some things only certain people can do, and only fewer can promise.

So a semi-formal system to track all this grew out of the casual promises of yesteryear, commonly referred to as “markers” and “favours”. In the most basic of terms, a marker is something you owe, a payment or (far more common) a task or waiting request; a favour is exactly that, a payment or other such intangible thing that a person owes to you. Some are precisely defined (“for saving my child, I will grant you passage on any of my ships when you require it”), others are left nebulous.

* A PC can gain a Favour with a successful CHA test. (There may be modifiers on this test depending on the PC’s status, the status of the person who will be granting the Favour, what is asked for or may be offered, etc.)
– If the Favour is gained, unless the Favour itself is paying off a Marker, the PC also gains a Marker of equivalent value, to be “cashed in” by the other party at any time.

* Favours may also be offered freely (with or without a balancing Marker, at the player character’s discretion — freebies can improve one’s reputation and make future trades smoother!).

* Markers may also be accepted freely, if one really wants to make an impression (and, sometimes, find oneself being gifted a Favour regardless).

! But beware! While Favours may be “banked”, as it were, so can Markers — and both can be traded around through the “economy” created by this web of obligations. Because, well, “if you need x, well, you also need y and so-and-so owes me y, I’ll call that marker in for you if you’ll do z for me …” and so on —

On hacks past and future(?)

I like The Black Hack.  I like how I can tinker with it and so much is left to table interpretation I can do a little better at squashing my inevitable “but I wrote that wrong D8″ reaction, especially these days.  1e is still my go-to for it.

Last year (after several years of scrabbling at the idea), I finished what I called the “Blue Lotus Hack” and — after more months of panic at the idea — released it, first as a PoD on Amazon via CreateSpace and then the pdf on DriveThru.  I also did this under a different nick, because it was the only way to talk myself into it, and linked a blog inside the book; a blog I then managed maybe two useful posts on, because I was sure that the more I posted the more obvious I’d be.

After that I started tinkering with a much smaller idea of a bolt-on “not Spelljammer” / “fantasy space” setup, and got as far as the basics + a class + some critters (I do love me some critters) but stalled at what I thought was the writing up a few paragraphs of a sample system but was/is more likely to be the brainweasels attacking full force again.  Now I’m debating maybe putting the “spacehack” — which needs a name I suppose, oops — up here in parts and pieces, and maybe I’ll collect it all up in a pdf and toss it on here if I go through with it completely …

These were/are my theme paragraphs; they would be most of an intro, with a bit more explanation stapled on either before or afterward: Continue reading “On hacks past and future(?)”

A dozen tinier trifles

01.  five black violets dried between leaves of parchment, folded in a silver case

02.  a pair of gloves sewn from amber and ruby seed beads

03.  a tiny ceramic bird that flutters to life when breathed on

04.  a pair of lovingly polished knuckledusters with prisms on the business flats of the them

05.  a weathered, folded parchment in a leather envelope that appears to name the holder of the document as the heir of an important clan or family

06.  a handful of dried rose petals in a screw of waxed paper

07.  twin paperweights in the shape of frogs, blue-green glass with gilded eyes

08.  three quill pens cut from brightraven feathers

09.  a slim belt-sash woven from crimson wool mixed with silk

10.  the bones from the left forepaw of an unliving runepard

11.  a mysterious, dagger-like fang that glows faintly

12.  a jack of thinned oxhorn, mounted in gold and engraved with linked verses praising an ancestral hero

Four enchantments

Binding Blossom

If two or more beings drink from the same draft within the hollow of this translucent ruby-glass rose (the size of two fists pressed together), those beings will always be able to sense the general location of all who drank, as well as whether they are in any great physical distress.

The Cleansing Fires

Actually small blocks of essence-of-amber; when one is tossed into flames or onto coals, any broken object passed through the leaping golden flames is miraculously restored.


Sorcerer’s Shawl

Not an item of clothing at all, but a delicately carved gem or polished bit of precious metal meant to be inserted into the flesh. Such a Shawl may have one of two purposes: either to serve as a grimoire containing 10 levels of spells in any combination (“readable” by touching the Shawl), or it may hold up to 5 levels of spells inside waiting to trigger at the owner’s command (and those must afterwards be re-cast or replaced by other cast spells).


An enchanted arrow carved from briarwood, chiseled to a point but bearing no arrowhead, and fletched with trimmed rose petals.

A sorrowthorn does no actual injury even though it does appear to pierce the flesh; instead it overwhelms the victim with paralyzing grief until shaken or otherwise shocked out of it.

A dozen trifles

It’s already being A Weekend[tm].  So, a handful of small distractions to sneak into a game session.


01.  ivory beads, tumbled so smooth over the years with prayer and handling that the whorls of their entwined serpents are nearly worn away

02.  a piece of smoky obsidian worn and polished into the rough shape of a crouching frog with a butterfly in its mouth

03.  a delicate network of crystal nodes and hair-fine golden wire, intersecting and interlacing; is it a hairnet, a strange broad-collar, or something else?

04.  paired scribe’s palettes of smoothly polished ebony with brass fittings, each sporting a well for water, a slot for quills or brushes and six wells filled with brilliant colours

05.  a burnished unicorn’s skull inlaid with tiny patterns of petals, leaves and snowflakes in glittering gemstones

06.  a tiny, cunningly jointed figurine of a running deer, of ivory picked out in stained colours and gilding

07.  a moth in a glass bulb that glows with a soft blue phosophoresence

08.  a dagger honed from a split and ground human femur, carved with spiraling runes filled with cinnabar

09.  an ornate openwork arrowhead of silver-chased steel, its tang pierced for the leather thong it’s been strung on

10.  a folding game board and pieces in red and yellow cedar

11.  a tiny glass sphere that shows the phase of the moon

12.  a crackled prism of glass shading pink to violet, warm and comforting to the touch