Nov 12, 2023



This week I read:

Roleplaying Games

Black Sword Hack

This week I ran a one-shot of Black Sword Hack. I prepared a super-tropey adventure inspired by the Slayers of the Blood God scenario in the rulebook, the tower break-in scene from the Conan the Barbarian film, and the Michael Moorcock story Elric of Melnibone.

Originally I was just going to run Slayers of the Blood God, but then I thought that if this is just a one-shot and we’re likely never going to return to the system, I wanted to cram in as many Moorcock tropes as I could: runeswords, gods, magic, different planes of reality, etc.

And so, Murjana—a sophist and natural diplomat, born and educated in the richest palace of the Caliphate—and Rina—a decadent, storytelling, warlock raised in a necropolis by ghosts—found themselves tasked to break into the tower of Lord Suren and steal a powerful artefact, the loss of which would greatly set back the plans of the setting’s antagonist: an evil empire of Law.

Black Sword Hack has a little system for generating a sword-and-sorcery world, so we did that, then created characters which tied into the world, and finally I slotted the details in, madlibs style, into the adventure I’d written previously. The players ended up setting fire to a tower full of priceless artefacts, making a bargain with a trapped Lord of Chaos, finding a runesword, and slaying an evil shadow-clone. We ended the session with them trapped in the dead world where the runesword was hidden, wondering how they would get home. Good stuff.

It was fun, fairly fast-paced, and definitely different to our usual Arden Vul game. There were a few things we messed up with the rules, but that’s always the case with a new system. I’m not sure I’d use Black Sword Hack for a campaign, there’s a possibility of bringing it back for future one-shots; but, then again, there’s always more systems I want to try.