Saturday, June 11, 2016

My Henchman House Rules for The Black Hack

There was a post in the Black Hack Google community this morning about henchmen, so I thought I'd post the henchmen house rules I've been using for the Ravensburg game.


Each PC begins the game with one henchman of any class the player chooses. Thereafter, the PC gains one additional henchman at every even-numbered experience level. New (and replacement) henchmen are level-1 NPCs equipped with a backpack, any one weapon the player chooses, and the following according to class:

Warrior: Shield – OR – Missile Weapon and Ammo
Thief: Thief's Tools
Cleric: Spell book and Holy Symbol
Conjurer: Spell book

The PC is responsible for paying for any other gear the henchman will use. In exchange for their loyalty, henchmen will expect level- and class-appropriate gear upgrades, and will also expect a 10% share of all monetary treasure earned by the PC on adventures in which they participate.

Henchmen always have average HP and have a single stat* for all attributes according to level:

Levels 1-2: 10
Levels 3-4: 11
Levels 5-6: 12
Levels 7-8: 13
Level 9:      14

Henchmen level up at the rate of one level per adventure until they reach one level below that of the PC leading them. Thereafter, they level up when the PC does.**


* Henchmen are very ordinary, with stats slightly lower than average to ensure the PC leading them will be the star.

** In other words henchmen stay one level below the PC at all times except when the PC is at first level. If a PC ever loses a level, the henchman stays at his present level until the PC gains enough levels to be one level above him again.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Black Hack Session 2 in Ravensburg

Cast of Characters

Andros Grey (+Tim Shorts) Level 2 Cleric
Athena of the Forest (+Ken H), Level 2 Warrior
Beryl Wayfarer (Athena's NPC Henchman), Level 1 Conjurer
Boris Bonesnapper (Andros' NPC Henchman), Level 1 Warrior

Session Summary

At the end of last session, the party had defeated the ghoul, Finneas Flogg, and his three ghoulettes. The party then entered the mausoleum wherein they found one of the two missing dragon eggs, the half-eaten body of Ugly Sue (one of Andrea Nadsnip's two treacherous henchmen), and a niche in the back wall containing a swirling mass of grey-black smoke, from behind which came wretched, pained and pleading voices: "Help! You must release us! Don't leave us here!"

Taking their courage in both hands, the party plunged into the smoke. They emerged on the other side in a large round chamber with no sign of the niche through which they had passed behind them. The domed ceiling of the chamber had a wide opening in the center giving a view to the starry night sky. Torches with green flames lined the room. Bound to the walls with ethereal chains were eleven ghosts. Above each ghost's head was its name written in burning flames. There were two empty sets of ghostly chains, above which burned the names "Andros Grey" and "Athena of the Forest" (the PCs). In the center of the room stood a ghostly great sword in the middle of a pentagram traced in coal on the floor. In the center of the pentagram, beneath the point of the sword, was a large gold ring, set there as if to anchor something.

The ghosts pleaded to be released. Andros and Athena spoke to the ghost of Ugly Sue, who told them that Finneas had made a deal with the devil – if Finneas fed thirteen souls to the devil, the devil would release Finneas from his ghoulish state and make him human again. The ghosts wanted to be released in order to go on to a proper afterlife.

Athena and Andros could not touch either the ethereal chains or great sword, but found as they erased parts of the pentagram, the sword became more and more tangible, until they could finally grasp it. They then cut the chains of the ghosts, who sighed with relief and rose through the hole in the ceiling and flew off into the night sky.

Grasping the gold ring and pulling it, Andros and Athena opened a secret door in the wall of the chamber leading to a tunnel lined with writhing zombie arms and hands. With no other way out, they tried to make their way down the tunnel, dodging the groping appendages (GM note: each successful Dex check got them safely one third of the way down the corridor; a failure meant they got one third of the way down but got grabbed and had to melee with the grasping zombie hands in order to get free). It took some time, but they made their way out through the end of the tunnel with relatively little harm done.

Emerging from the corridor, they found themselves standing in a black, burnt circular patch of grass, in the back yard of a run-down shack in the middle of a marsh. Once again there was no sign of the passage-way through which they had come. It was still night and a fog was starting to rise. The area around the shack looked lived-in and light glowed from between the planks.

Athena and Andros knocked on the door and met the conjurer-hermit Grimling, who turned out not to be Ugly Sue's old employer (as Andrea Nadsnip had told the party), but rather her husband. The zombie-arm tunnel had teleported the party all the way to Dankmarsh.

After hearing the party's story about Finneas and Ugly Sue, Grimling explained that he had found Finneas mortally wounded in the marsh and could not save him, keeping him quasi-alive by turning him into a ghoul. Grimling promised to search for a way to make him human again and in the meantime would keep him as an apprentice. But Finneas got impatient, rebelled against Grimling, and ran off.

When Grimling had originally found him, Finneas had been pursuing a dragon in the marsh – apparently Finneas was looking for a dragon egg which was to play some role in curing his sick mother. When Finneas the ghoul ran off, Grimling sent Ugly Sue to find a dragon egg and offer it to Finneas in order to bring him back to Grimling. Evidently Sue's mission failed, as Finneas felt he had found a better offer.

Grimling offered to teleport Andros and Athena back to Ravensburg (the burnt patch behind the shack was his teleport site). The party accepted and soon found themselves back in their inn at Ravensburg as the sun was rising. They decided to get some rest and then go to the university of Ravensburg for more information on dragon eggs.

And there ended the session.

Monday, May 30, 2016

B-17 Queen of the Skies: Mission Report 1

Always in the process of rebuilding my collection of games given away/sold when I went through grad school, I picked up a copy of Avalon Hill's solo game B-17 Queen of the Skies in really good condition for a mere $50 on ebay – most copies run about $150 or so.

Crews of the B-17 Flying Fortress (and other bombers) had a tough row to hoe. Complete 25 missions and you get to go home. But casualties were unbelievably heavy. According to the WWII Foundation: "In 1942-43 it was statistically impossible for bomber crews to complete a 25-mission tour in Europe."

After watching the movie Fortress over the weekend, and re-familiarizing myself with the rules, I set up a plane and crew and ran them through their first mission.

Movie Trailer for Fortress


The Bomber and Crew

     Bomber: Naughty Nellie
     Pilot: Cpt. Ben Edwards
     Co-Pilot: Lt. Bert Sandoval
     Navigator (Port & Starboard Cheek MGs): Lt. Milton Garner
     Bombardier (Nose MG): Lt. Bill Warren
     Engineer (Top Turret MG): Mst. Sgt. Tim Barber
     Radio (Radio MG):  Sgt. Darnell Allen
     Ball Turret MG: Sgt. Andy Alvarez
     Port Waist MG: Sgt. Carl Evans
     Starboard Waist MG: Sgt. Jason Daniels
     Tail MG: Sgt. Angelo Manning

The Mission 

It's November 1943, and the crew's mission is to fly over the channel into France to bomb a rail yard near Amiens. It's not a long flight, so in theory it should be a comparatively easy mission. Nellie is slated to fly in the middle of her squadron (comparatively safe), but the squadron is posted to the lower part of the formation (comparatively dangerous). You can't get everything.

Over the Channel

The formation takes off and flies across England toward the channel. Once over the water, friendly escort is less than effective, and Nellie gets hit with a first wave of enemy fighters.

"Where the hell is our fighter cover?"

Five Me 109's, none of which is driven off by fighters, scream into sight. They come from practically every direction with one each at 12:00 level, 1:30 high, 3:00 high, 6:00 high, and a last one coming straight down in a vertical dive.

Nice Shootin' Boys!

Lt. Warren working the nose MG opens up on the fighter at 12:00 level and destroys it. Lt. Garner damages the enemy at 1:30 high with the starboard cheek MG, and Mst. Sgt. Barber up in the top turret polishes off the one at 6:00 high. The starboard waist MG, tail MG and radio MG all miss.

The three remaining 109's attack. Two of them miss and break off, but the third one coming in at 3:00 hits, putting one shell into the starboard wing and another into the bomb bay. Both hits are superficial.

The third 109 comes in again at 3:00 level, but Sgt. Daniels on the starboard waist MG takes him out.

Here They Come Again!

The crew barely have time to catch their breath before a second wave hits. The fighter escort is still ineffective, and two Me 109's and a Me 110 break through to take on Nellie.

Garner switches sides to the port cheek MG and damages a 109 coming in at 10:30 level. Lt. Warren is on a streak up in the nose as he takes out his second 109 of the day, coming in at 12:00. No one gets a shot at the Me 110 coming in at 10:30 low.

One Hell of a Pilot

Letting the Me 110 come in unhindered has unfortunate consequences. While the damaged 109 misses on its attack run and breaks off, the 110 goes on a tear and puts two shells into Nellie. One is a superficial hit to the bomb bay, but the other one is a direct hit to the Norden bomb sight in the nose.

The 110 comes in again at 12:00, emerges unscathed through the crew's defensive fire, and this time puts two more shells into Nellie – one into each wing. Luckily the hits are ineffective.

On the Me 110's third pass, Mst. Sgt. Barber in the top turret puts a few rounds into the enemy fighter, and the pilot breaks off his attack.

The Norden Bomb Sight

We Didn't Even Make it to France

Capt. Edwards' voice crackles over the radio: "Report! What's the damage?"

Warren's voice replies: "It's no good Cap. That 110 took out the bomb sight. There's no way we can put our load on the target now."

"Alright, we'll abort."

Edwards drops out of formation, turns around over the channel and starts back to England.

Evans looks over at Daniels in the waist of the plane. "Hell, man, we didn't even make it to France."

Thick as Pea Soup

Nellie heads back to 8th Air Force's base. On approach, the weather turns foul. The poor conditions make the landing trickier than normal, but Edwards brings Naughty Nellie down safe and sound. The crew steps off disappointed but unscathed. One mission down, only twenty-four to go.