Q: I am a gamer with high standards. Why should I buy your game?
A: If you want quality, and especially if you plan to go to the highest level and beyond with a ruleset, you are looking for an emergent game that develops and opens up new venues in both rules and setting as you continue playing. You are also looking for rules that allow for but don’t demand marathon sessions or huge amounts of prep time when the characters become more experienced. If you enjoy complex settings, you will be looking for a game that can handle unique species, factions and forms of magic, without resorting to splatbooks. Whitehack is designed to satisfy these and similar requirements.
Q: Can anyone play Whitehack? Can I play with my children?
A: When you can read the game text, you are ready to play Whitehack. But there is no reason to wait that long if you are a parent who wants to play with your kids. The big hurdles for children are usually that mainstream rulesets require frequent math operations or have magic systems that restrain their imagination. Whitehack uses “roll high under” rolls for most things (i.e. very little math) and a kind of improvisational magic. I didn’t write the game for children—most certainly not the adventures! But I have played Whitehack with my daughter and her friends since well before they could read. My advice is to adapt the material (so it doesn’t give the children nightmares!), and to not expect very long sessions in the beginning. Miniatures, dominoes and oddly shaped dice are your friends. And be prepared that your child will leave the gaming table to run and tell your partner every time she scores a hit with her axe :).
Q: I hear there is a setting in the book, can you say something about it?
A: The curse of a dying Witch King has twisted the land and many of its inhabitants, turning elves, dwarves and halflings into little more than marred deviations in the human gene pool. People call it the “White Curse,” since the death of the Witch King has also brought a new ice age. The game world is a large, snow covered wilderness with a treacherous underground and a city built into a tremendous mountain gorge. The setting contains some non-traditional fantasy elements and also features “the Black,” which is a shadowy copy of the world before the curse. In addition to playing regular adventurers, the players can take on the roles of Watchers, who are members of an ancient society sworn to lift the curse, or Cultists, who secretly work to bring the Witch King back from afterlife. The setting is firmly placed in a grim fantasy tradition, but with streaks of mutant superheroes and science fiction.
Q: Can you tell me something more about the notebook version?
A: It is a notebook, only with a full Whitehack game on the first 64 pages. The note section starts with a blank table of contents for your own notes, and then continues with dotted pages (with page numbers). The paper is cream colored, quality book paper—very nice to write on. I like the sound and feeling of using a simple pencil on it. If you have never owned a dotted notebook before, the dots are a discrete way of giving you some guidance for your writing, but also for arrows, drawings, lists etc. They are perfect for imitating the Whitehack style of maps and mind maps. I have started bringing my copy pretty much everywhere.
Q: Can you tell me something more about those paper dice?
A: The paper dice are made from complete series of die outcomes (i.e. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6; 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 …) sorted randomly with the help of atmospheric noise. To use them, spin your pencil and point. If there is any doubt which number you are pointing at, choose the closest one to the right and below. If you aren’t super picky about probabilities, you only need to point once to “roll” 3d6 six times in a row. Sometimes I point once on the d20 page at the beginning of a session and jot down a sequence of 15 or so numbers. Then I just tick them off as we play. The paper dice are also great for when you can’t roll dice, like on the bus or when sitting some place where you need to be quite.
Q: What is this about running material for percentile systems—I thought Whitehack was a level and class based game in the world’s first RPG tradition?
A: It is, and Whitehack is best at running such material. But the difference isn’t as big as one would think. Second edition Whitehack has a corruption system and has switched to “roll high under” rolls for all tasks, saves and attacks. This has brought the game closer to how classic percentile systems (by which I also mean 1–20 systems) work. Add Whitehack’s flexible character generation and magic system to that, and you will have no trouble using your material. It won’t be quite as easy as running modules in the world’s first RPG tradition, but it will be easy enough.
Q: I bought the first edition. Do I need to buy the second one?
A: No, you don’t *need* to. Whitehack 1e is still a very good game that will last you a lifetime of gaming! The second edition is just a lot better :).
Q: What is new or improved in the second edition?
A: Virtually every section in the game text has seen some improvement, but the major changes are, in no particular order (and repeating a lot of info from the About page):
– 64 instead of 32 pages.
– Task rolls, attacks and saves are now all “roll high under” rolls.
– The AC system(s) of first edition has been replaced by a new AC system that uses raw armor values (i.e. leather armor isn’t AC 10+2=12 or AC 9-2=7, it is simply AC 2).
– The support for HP costs and miracle effects has been greatly improved.
– Auctions have been improved so as to not give Referees who know all PC values any advantage
– There is a full spread of additional gameplay examples
– There are three new classes (the third of which comes with two unique playable species—the Dagonite and the Marionette), and the Strong class has gotten a new kind of ability that is more in line with the abilities of the Deft and the Wise
– Chapter III has been *greatly* extended with texts on adventure styles and with a Referee toolbox which broadens and strengthens the game (this toolbox has rules for hex- and dungeon crawls, reaction rolls, miniatures, hirelings, vehicle combat, corruption and traditional magic (including something called “true miracles”)
– There are rules for play beyond levels, involving divine aid/debts and game world aspects
– There are boss monster rules, including boss stages and a variant of popcorn initiative
– The chapter on magic artifacts is stronger, with about 50 concepts and a few new fleshed out artifacts
– The setting and the adventures have been improved a lot and now have the Whitehack equivalent of maps. There are also random encounter tables, a faction mindmap, lists of NPCs and affiliation groups and random rumors. The two last phases of Pale Orc have been expanded to better introduce the White Curse setting.
– The book now has an index, a page on terminology, some advice for troubleshooting and paper dice for when you can’t or don’t want to roll regular dice.
– The physical product has much better quality and a stronger identity. Whitehack looks and feels like no other RPG I know of.
– If you get the notebook version of Whitehack, you can keep the game and all your Referee notes in one place. With the paper dice, you can prepare your game sessions sitting anywhere, like on the bus or where you need to be quiet.
Q: We are in the midst of a first edition game. How do we convert our characters and Referee material?
A: You will find that clearly stated in the rulebook, p. 4.
Q: I want to comment on your game here on this site! But my comments seem to be waiting for moderation indefinitely. What gives?
A: I love comments! But 1) I would also love for news about this game to spread and 2) this is a zero maintenance site. There is a comments field below the pages simply because it can’t be turned off in the free version of wordpress. Please post your comments anywhere else you feel comfortable. There are plenty of other RPG blogs, fora and newsgroups! I read a lot of them, so I will probably read your comments too!
Q: What is Open Game Content and what is Product Identity in Whitehack?
A: Please read the full license text in the game, p. 64.
Q: Is there a PDF version of Whitehack?
A: No, Whitehack is a print only game.