The Jack Hack Complete. A Dark Victorian role-playing game
The Jack Hack is a rpg of trying to beat the odds in the depravity of late Victorian London. It was inspired by the Black Hack OSR rpg
This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by Sun, September 30 2018 5:30 PM UTC +00:00.
The Goal of this Kickstarter.
To create an updated version of the Jack Hack rpg including a limited printed box set.
The Jack Hack is a Role-Playing Game of Victorian Villains. It was originally inspired by The Black Hack rpg by David Black & my love of Victorian Adventuring. The release will contain a full rules set based on the Black Hack, modified to fit the setting.
"You were once quite worthy fellows. Something terrible happened and you hit rock bottom. Were it not for a mysterious benefactor you would have died. Maybe you would have been better off that way. Your life is one long fight to survive in the twisting, dank alleyways of the Whitechapel area of London. And now rumour has it there is a serial killer on the loose".
The main thrust of the The Jack Hack as a game is trying to beat the odds in the depravity of late Victorian London. It has a particular focus on the Whitechapel area just before, and around the time of the infamous Jack the Ripper murders. The PCs aren't heroes, but aren't meant to be down-right cruel either. They are trying to get by- but situations, events and adventures keep coming their way.
Clearly the Whitechapel Murders were a terrible event but the mystery and legend about them is perfect for game creativity.
The Jack Hack Complete (Or The Jack Hack-The Complete Rip-Off, if you forgive the terrible pun) is produced as a set of five A5 sized books each about 60 pages in length. Parts of it have previously been released on 'DriveThruRPG.com' where it is a Silver Seller. This release will contain much more material, a good edit throughout, and more art and images. As well as a set of new cover art.
The following details the five books
- The Jack Hack Basic Book. This includes the rules.
- Ripper Fhtagn. A game book of Mythos, Mesmerism and Monsters.
- Dead London. A game book of Martian Invasion and Steampunk.
- Carved In Flesh. 5 scenarios based around the Whitechapel Murders.
- The Great Game. A game book of Anarchists, Political Intrique and Spies.
The Jack Hack. This contains all the rules needed to play and stacks of random tables and adventure seeds.
The game features 5 classes:
- The Broken. Former military tough or pit-fighter, now a shallow shell of a man.
- The Night-Flower. A singer, actress; now working girl unable to rise out of the squalor.
- The Cokum. A street swindler, hypnotist, false nobility or fake folk hero. ·
- The Disgraced. A former doctor, scientist, lawyer, politician; abandoned by friends and family. ·
- The Fine-Wire. Once a master criminal, now mocked by both police and thieves.
It also features two usage dice:
The White. This usage dice represents your ‘outer’ influence, infamy, contacts and place in the Whitechapel area. You can use it to quickly gather information, find a safe house, find a short cut, or anything your group deems relevant.
The Black. This usage dice represents the ‘inner’ torment you suffer. You can call on it to complete a task, but the GM can force its use when she (or you) thinks a recent setback may cause you to go into a downward spiral and you need to face your demons.
Most classes start with a d6 to a d10 in a usage dice. When they are called on, the relevant dice is rolled to ensure you just get through that situation. If a 1-2 is rolled the dice is degraded one step (d10 to d8, d6 to d4) to represent you using up any influence and resources you may have; also your will, sanity, and/or self discipline being worn away.
The Rest of the book is ‘Welcome to Whitechapel’ and contains lots of random stuff to see, do and suffer! Images and Maps. There are many random tables such as:
- 20 things found floating in the Thames.
- 20 things a street vendor may sell you.
- 20 places to wake up the morning after.
- 20 petty criminals.
- 20 words a gentleman wouldn’t call his wife.
There are about two dozen of these in total. There are also many lists of places to visit, and numerous adventure seeds to start your Jack Hack.
Cold Steel, and colder heart. A reign of Terror is about to begin that will test the hearts and souls of all fellows, be they foul or fair.
This book adds a supernatural element to The Jack Hack: Areas such as classic gothic of Poe, Victorian Spiritualism. M R James, William Hope Hodgson, and the terrible fear of the unknown throughout Lovecrafts' work. Much of this horror is too difficult to combat martially so the PCs will need their wits and guile to overcome what lies within. Neither physical nor mental wounds heal well in the hospitals and asylums of London at this time. Some entities will have 'stats' so the PCs could stab them in the back or kosh them on the head and run. Or they could just run, hide and then curl up in a ball and sob.
Some of the material has previously been released in a publication called the Penny Black.
The Victorians were obsessed by the supernatural especially after the death of prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s Consort in 1861. Colonisation of some of the less explored regions of the world brought them contact with new peoples and cultures; new diseases, artefacts and folk lore. They re-invigorated various myths of England such as King Arthur and Robin Hood. Even the lowest sought out the exotic. In the grim streets of Whitechapel, this was taken to its most extreme. Luckily, everyone has become very gullible!
It is not within 'Coincidences' Grasp' that the five ripper victims lie within the boundaries of an ‘elder sign’. The mini-adventures within will test the already shattered psyches of the Jack Hack PCs
This book introduces a new class, The Mesmer, who after years of trickery and pretending to contact the spirit world actually has, and now lives to regret it. It also introduces a new usage dice, The Purple. This dice is for the GM and has two purposes. This dice represents the unseen, but ever present fear, pervading the dark doorways of Whitechapel. Each time the PCs do some deed that may lessen this air of fear and anxiety test this dice. Once stepped down to zero, an air of calm and serenity fills the streets, if just for a short time. The restless are rested, and the normal squalor and threats to the streets return. As GM you could also use this dice to bolster the occurrence of spirits, and worse. You could add more threat and test the dice immediately afterwards to see if, by drawing more 'nameless things' into the open, you have drawn down the overall eldritch nature/reserve of the area.
The rest of the book contains adventure seeds, tables of random things such as 20 ghostly sightings, 10 spiritual societies, and tables to generate the weird and the alien.
As if things weren't bad enough the Martians have invaded. With the original War of the Worlds as its' source its a chance for our wretched PCs to be a bit more heroic. The Martian invasion has hit London hardest and reduced much of it to its ruin. But there is hope. The strange cloying Red Weed that accompanied the Tripods reacts remarkably with water. In the polyps of the plants the water becomes super ionised and gains massive amounts of energy. A clever few have learnt to harness this phenomena, the Age of Steam Punk has begun. With fanciful weapons and technology the fight back has begun. Or the PCs, the foul villains that they maybe, have found another way to exploit the huddled masses and gain vengeance against the folk who brought them low!
It will feature a couple of new classes, The Touched (who have had a previous way too 'close encounter'), and The Rejected (a scientist whose predictions and ideas were laughed out of The Royal Society, but are now all coming true).
A new usage dice, The Green, used for the stability of mixing alien and steam technology together. The more things added, the more powerful the item, but the more unpredictable it becomes.
Lots of tables of locations, vehicles, useful people, rumour, and weapons, and 3 complete scenarios.
Carved In Flesh.
Carved In Flesh contains five mini sandbox adventures, each tied to one of the five Whitechapel Murders and the mystery around Jack The Ripper. The clues, trails, causes, methods, culprits etc. are all randomly generated with a nod to an ongoing major event in the area. The Events are
- A Freak Show & Circus
- The opening of a New Asylum
- A Theological Synod
- The closing of a Decrepit Hospital
- A visit by a Foreign Warship.
The Great Game.
Historically the Great Game was a time when the British and Russian Empires struggled for dominance over Central Asia and 'India'. In this release the machinations are carried out in London itself and surrounding areas as the Great Powers of Europe and beyond jostle for dominance, all the while being threatened by the newly empowered masses, in the form of anarchists, liberty and suffrage.
This book feature two new class, The Gutter-Monger, a journalist peddling 'copy' of a most seedy flavour, and The Mounter, an informer, liar and perjurer who has double (triple!) crossed just one time too many and the whole card stack has collapsed on her. About half of the material has previously been released as The Great Game on drivethrurpg.com
A number of tables can be used to generate a nefarious plot. Who, why, where, when and how the deed will take place. The book contains lots of historical maps and images of famous landmarks in London.
Their is also a more comprehensive list of inventions, weapons, explosives and other munitions.
The Jack Hack main book. Content is 90% complete, just a few images and maps to add, and then a final look at editing / format.
Ripper Fhtagn. Content is 70% complete, with images and maps to add, and then a final look at editing / format.
Dead London. Still play testing some of the Steampunk ideas, as it is a somewhat different feel to the other books. Content is 60% complete, with images and maps to add, and then a final look at editing / format.
Carved In Flesh. Content is 60% complete, with images and maps to add, and then a final look at editing / format.
The Great Game. Content is 90% complete, just a few images and maps to add, and then a final look at editing / format.
Further Stretch Goals I have in mind 2 more books.
Liberty and Blood examines the districts of New York which were equally horrific at the time, inspired by the TV series The Alienist. The cover will feature Lady Liberty holding a blade rather than a torch.
Paris By Night looks at the seedy underworlds of this perilous city, and other European 'low lights' at the end of the 19th century. The cover features the near constructed Eiffel Tower with a body hanging from it. The Belle Époque may not be so beautiful after all!
Risks and challenges
I have the services of the most excellent Jonny Gray and John Love for art. The bulk of the money going on this and printing. Matthew Pook is set up to edit and some funds will go there
I only work in the real world part-time, so I have lots left to dedicate to gaming projects.
My previous three kickstarters have been delivered on time and I'm setting myself about a year to complete and deliver this one.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter