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The Whitehack vs The Black Hack


Formerly 'Brousseau'
Validated User
For years, decades, I've been struggling to bash D&D into something that does what I want without feeling like the system is constantly fighting me or getting in the way or bloating out of control. I played so many other games, better games, but D&D was always there in the back of my mind. I kept trying to make my own system that would do D&D but streamlined and without arbitrary restrictions or extensive lists of supplements to cover every possibility. It was my white whale.

I heard good things about the White Hack so I checked it out. It's not perfect, but it's close enough. I can rest now. The quest is over. Maybe.


Needs a treat
Validated User
Bummer. I was hoping TBH would cater to both dungeon delving and wilderness exploration.

Do we know if TBH 2nd edition caters more toward this?
I never really understood why TBH 1e was thought to be lacking for wilderness exploration. In any event, the 2nd edition has specifically addressed hexcrawling and overland adventuring with lightweight rules for distances, travel times and random generation of hexes/settlements/encounters.

I was thinking of using it for a Hot Springs Island campaign after I finish the Saltmarsh trilogy using 2e TBH.

Chris J

Registered User
Validated User
Good to know McAndrew.

And I guess any roleplaying game that has a 'Charisma' stat can be used for social intrigue. Not sure what I expect to hear when I ask "Can game 'X' do urban counters and social skullduggery", because a roleplaying game by its very nature should be able to cater for that.


Cardassian Tailor
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Whitehack is really "handwave-y". Two of the classes have core abilities that are not well-defined, and so have to be negotiated between the DM and Player. I like this aspect of the game, but it makes the game feel less "old-school" to me (I guess my formative old-school experiences were with "My way or the highway" DMs). Blackhack is more of a traditional old-school experience, in this sense; the core abilities and resolution mechanics are neatly spelled-out.

This makes Whitehack a more flexible game out-of-the-box, since those elements can be handwaved into whatever sort of characters the party wants. Blackhack, on the other hand, is more fixed in terms of what sort of the characters it offers, but there are many many sub-hacks out there so the game gains a different type of flexibility.

I guess I would recommend Whitehack if you want a tiny, flexible game, which doesn't have much support but also which doesn't need much support, and has some strong narrative elements. There's no official PDF version, but Lulu has a really nice "notebook" version that is mostly blank pages you can fill in yourself (there's also a more "traditional" version if you don't like paying for blank pages, as well as a cheap "booklet" version).

I would recommend Blackhack if you want a small (but not tiny) game that is very modular and which has a lot of cheap (but mostly not free) third-party content for, making it pretty well-supported for an indy OSR game.

Mind you, neither them are my favourite OSR game, but I think they both have some great mechanics to steal from.
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Chris J

Registered User
Validated User
I've just read Black Hack 2ed and most of Whitehack 2ed. I love Whitehack and really want to love Black Hack but I find it limiting. Ok perhaps not limiting but, as you say it has less choice out of the box because what options you do have are spelt out for you right out of the box. For example, fighters have about three to five type abilities right out of the gate, as does Whitehack. The big sell for me though is Whitehack lets you choose practically whatever you want for your character. Perhaps limiting is the wrong term, it's more a case of more freedom to design your character in Whitehack that swings it for me.

Likewise, some folk are scared off with the open magic system but I really like it. I guess there's no better or worse game here, but which is best for 'you'.
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