Thursday, May 28, 2020

HammerHack: OD&D/Chainmail inspired Warhammer Fantasy Battles

David Gallagher
It's been some time since I've posted but I haven't been idle! So yes, what is HammerHack? This is an attempt for me to hack together a system to scratch a particular itch that I have. To explain, I’m quite a big OD&D fan. I love the history and the almost Promethean nature of the original game. I love how the system almost disappears in play. One of the more interesting aspects of it is Chainmail and the modern push (it’s my understanding that it was never played this way originally) to incorporate and use it in-game. The push that follows a completely different mindset and would let tables smoothly transition from tense duels, battling fantastic foes, and battles with hundreds of participants all using unified systems. 

Psionic Blast From The Past was a huge inspiration in this regard. Their posts on Chainmail and how it can simplify and diversify 0e conflicts are amazing stuff. Go check them out! 

One of my favorites, but doesn't hit my goals here.
I tried one such OD&D/Chainmail combo and very much enjoyed it. I immediately wanted to apply the concept to another game that has its roots in wargaming: Warhammer Fantasy Battles! WFRP is all well and good (and 1e will always have a place in my heart and shelf), but aspects of the game always left me wanting. The magic system was always a tad wonky, the combat could be whiffed for days, and the rules are a bit dense for my liking. Even the new game, with excellent art, atmosphere, and rules is a bit much for me. It’s good for a “piss and shit” type game where you’re ok with the system hating the players, but I wanted to capture some of the outrageous and truly exaggerated scale of Warhammer Fantasy Battles. 

Art by John Blanche
So, much like OD&D emerging from Chainmail’s concepts and mechanics, I’m taking WFB and making it my mechanical base. From there I’m adding some bits on characters, progression, adjudicating rolls, and a small variety of the more “lite” OSR rules/mechanics that I think can go big (for example, Into the Odd has rules on enterprises which are just a paragraph but can cover anything from cults to business to guilds and more).

Fortunately, Mordheim exists, as does WFB 1e. Mordheim in particular is a scaled-down and more individual-focused take on WFB’s mechanics. I think that it’s a good final piece for my “RPG based on Warhammer using only d6 scaling combat” puzzle.

The setting of Mordheim also makes for an interesting testbed and proof-of-concept with groups of adventurers exploring a hostile environment, gaining treasure, recruiting followers, and contending in conflicts of escalating scale and stakes

The non-focused version of this will be HammerHack, but for now, it’ll be called The City of the Damned. Check out my thought stew below. 

Click the art for the link to the rules!