Old School Hack SRD

The SRD for Old School Hack

Designer(s) and Publisher(s): Kirin Robinson.


Game: Old School Hack

Copyright Information

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial

As with the document it is based upon.

Get It Gratis

Based on v1.1, released in January 2011.

Non-game-mechanics have been cut from this SRD. Refer to the PDF for the full game.

Stuff You'll Need

A Bunch of Dice

The game uses mostly d10s and d12s. Some of the d10s should be cooler-looking than the others (for face dice).

A Point-Filled Bowl

You can use poker chips, beans, coins, whatever’s handy. The bowl should be reachable by everyone.

Various Print-Outs

At least one of each of the seven Class Sheets, Character Sheets for everyone and maybe an extra Weapons & Arenas Sheet and an Armor &
Healing Sheet.

Character & Bad Guy Tokens

Something to represent the good guys and the bad guys, there’s a sheet in the supplementals section. A one-inch hole punch from a craft store plus some washers work great.

Sets of Combat Cards

One set per player & DM. Note that each set comes with a handy card displayer which also includes some useful character info.


Combat Hex Tracker

You’ll need an extra set of the Character & Bad Guy Tokens for placing on the tracker each round.

Creating Your Character

  1. Every player picks one of the seven Class Sheets. Once you’ve picked a class, that class belongs to you, and no one else can play it, so don’t be a dick about it. Look over your class sheet and read as much of it as you can, paying special attention to your class Inherent and Limitation* as well as what Talents the class offers.
  2. Grab a Character Sheet and begin rolling your Attributes. Roll 2d10 and consult the Attribute Bonus Chart (there’s one on your Class Sheet as well), and then assign the bonus (-2 to +5) to one of the six attributes you feel is appropriate. Do this five more times. Don’t worry too much about having the right “Key Stat” for your class, the system doesn’t care too much about such things.
  3. Fill in the Class & Concept on your sheet with something cool, like the named level of your chosen class, but add a little extra flair: “Eagerly Curious Prestidigitator” or “Skulking Little Bastard” are some examples. If you can come up with something you like, name your character at this point.
  4. Pick a single Talent from your class sheet, whatever you think sounds like the most fun. Can’t pick just one? Don’t worry, you get to pick a new one every level. Oh yeah, this is kind of important - Talents come in three flavors, as you'll see in the Talents sidebar.
  5. Take a look at the Weapon & Arenas sheet and pick what category your starting weapon is - your weapon can be anything from a Shortsword to a Magic Wand to a Keg of Ale as long as you pick a weapon category that makes sense for it. Write it down and note what arena it has a bonus in. Note the Encumbrance Rules if you want a Heavy or Very Heavy weapon!
  6. Keeping the (simple) Encumbrance Rules in mind, pick a type of armor from the Armor & Healing sheet. Magic Users can wear armor but they may want those free Awesome Points that you get after fighting armorless in order to recharge their Talent Spells.
  7. Note the starting equipment for your class (on your class sheet), and roll your starting coin and write it in your Coin Purse box. If you’re playing the Goblin, check the other players’ class sheet equipment lists and claim stuff like they have.
  8. Come up with an Adventuring Goal and write it on your class sheet! It should be something fun that fits your concept and is (relatively) achievable with a little bit of hard work and luck.


Constant Talents

These talents are either always on or can be used as many times as you want.

Arena Talents

Once successfully used in combat, these talents can’t be used again until you move to a new Arena.
However, spending an Awesome Point lets you use a spent Arena Talent again even though you’re still in the same Arena.

Rested Talents

These talents can only be used once a day, or at least until you get a meal and some decent rest.
If you spend two Awesome Points and roleplay a little explanation how, you can usually recharge a spent Rested Talent outside of combat unless your DM has a good reason why you can’t.

Focused Talents

You may have also noticed that some Talents (like most spells) are also marked as Focused Talents - this means that using them in a combat round requires you to be vulnerable for a short while before they take effect.


Limitations, by the way, are purely optional suggestions on how to roleplay the class you’ve chosen. Feel free to ignore, change, or put your own spin on them.

Attribute Bonus Chart (roll 2d10)
5 or lower -2
6 to 8 -1
9 to 11 +0
12 or 13 +1
14 to 15 +2
16 to 17 +3
18 to 19 +4
20 +5

Some Adventuring Goals

Choose, roll or come up with your own.

  1. A cleric has divined the whereabouts of a rare cure for an ailing family member.
  2. You’re after the bandit that killed one of your parents.
  3. An ancestor forged a mighty weapon but it has since been stolen and lost.
  4. You owe a dangerous underworld lord 5 thousand gold pieces.
  5. You will collect something from every foe you’ve defeated.
  6. You’re obsessed with finding a strange and fantastical place that most people assume is just myth.
  7. A dangerous person in power must be stopped, and you’re the one to do it.
  8. An old lover or friend has gone missing or is involved in something dangerous.
  9. An assassin is after you and you don’t know why.
  10. You must prove and test yourself in danger to join the guild/circle/school you desperately want to be a part of.
  11. You were mentioned in a portentous prophecy.
  12. One of these days you’re going to spit in a dragon’s eye!

The Fighter

The Fighter is a bad-ass warrior who's good at surviving when the chips are down.

inherent: Steely-eyed

You’re good at hitting things. Every roll you make to hit something gets a +1 added to it.

limitation: Upkeep

Staying in combat trim requires constant focus, practice and precision, as well as lots of weapon sharpening and armor polishing. A lot of your free time is mostly spent either practicing or working on your equipment.

Available Talents

ARMOR OF SCARS constant ability

Getting beat up as often as you do has its advantages. You're tougher than most, and can take more punishment because of it. You start off with seven hit points instead of the usual five. Plus you've usually got some old war stories and a don't-mess-with-me countenance that gives you a +2 on any Charm check when trying to talk someone out of violence.

WEAPON OF CHOICE constant ability

You've become adeptly familiar with a specific weapon of your choice, and you use it as a natural extension of your body. As long as you are wielding it, all your attack dice are Face Dice. If for whatever reason you take up a new weapon, a week of training will switch your Weapon of Choice to that one.

CHARGER double action, usable once per arena

You're an expert at rushing in to attack. Once for every arena, you can make both a Move action and an Attack action in the same round, with a +2 bonus to the attack.

HEFT constant ability

You've got a little bit more oomph than everyone else. You can carry one more Heavy weapon or armor than your Brawn bonus would allow, and when you choose to wear no armor at all, your sexy build gives you a +2 bonus on any Charm check you make against someone that might be attracted to you.

EXPLOIT WEAKNESS focused attack, usable after rested

Practice in fighting means you have a trained eye for an Achilles’ Heel. Every couple of fights you can carefully observe that a monster or an opponent has a weakness, and if you are able to successfully Focus on it, subsequent attacks you make against it get a +2 bonus to hit and do an extra point of damage.

Starting Equipment

A bedroll, a leather flask of wine, a sack filled with dried rations and hardcheese, some flint & tinder, three torches, a whetstone, a sewing kit, some candles and a crowbar.

STARTING COIN: 1d10 gp, 1d12 sp



The Magic-User

The Magic User has studied the inner workings of the magical forces that permeate the world, and has some control over them.

inherent: Veil Touch

You see the mystical forces at work, where other users of magic have left their mark, or their spells are in effect or were within the last day or two. Not only that, you can leave your magical mark on any wall or object, visible only to people whom you feel would need to see it.

limit: Power Hungry

You wouldn't have the knowledge you have if you weren't ruthlessly passionate about being able to control stuff. Someday time and space will change at your whim, and who knows how that will affect you.

Available Talents

BOOK OF POWER magic item, usable anytime out of combat

You have acquired a magical tome, perhaps found, stolen, or given to you, in which hold a great many secrets, spells and lore. By spending a couple of minutes looking things up, you always know a single important fact about any given subject, either given to you by the DM or made up on the spot (per DM approval).

SLEEP SPELL focused spell, usable once after rested

Your character can make his or her voice take on a particularly somber and restful tone. Doing so, you can make two opponents or any number of Minions in your arena that can hear you fall asleep by making a successful Charm test vs. their Commitment(s). They’ll sleep through any noise, but a good shake or swift kick is all it takes to wake them.

PUPPET STRINGS focused spell, usable only once per arena

By waving your staff, implement, or just your fingers about, you can make one to three small and light inanimate things begin to float about nearby. They will even dance if you hum a tune. If you successfully cast the spell in combat, it increases your armor by one category as if you had a reach weapon until you take damage from a successful attack.

CONTROL PORTAL focused spell, usable anytime

You have the ability to speak to doors of any type. You can make any door unlock itself with a successful Charm check, tell you what has gone through it recently, or you can tell a single door to bar itself against any entry, your Commitment against the Brawn test of anything trying to open it. You can only effect one door at a time in this way.

MAGIC MISSILE focused spell, usable once after rested

This spell shoots out a magical bolt that automatically hits anything in your arena or an adjacent one, doing 2 points of damage, no need to roll. By taking a hit point of damage yourself, you can increase the damage to 3 points.

Starting Equipment

A cloak warm enough to sleep in, a waterskin, some dried food, a small knife, a few pouches of exotic and weird components, a scrollcase filled with parchments and pens, a small bound book for notes, and some flashpowder for impressing people.




The Cleric

A holy warrior or fighting monk, the Cleric's faith inspires righteous acts, salves the wounded, and rallies companions.

inherent: Divine Favor

You are under the wing of one or more deities, and have their protection. As long as you visibly wear representation of your faith, your Armor Class increases by a single point.

limitation: Humility

Your are bound by the strictures of your faith, whatever they may be. It is impor- tant to you to present the ideals of that faith to others.

Available Talents

PRAYERS OF THE HURT focused spell, usable only once after rested

This spell invokes your deity to close wounds and restore health and energy. By laying your hands on someone who is down to 2 hit points or less, which could be yourself, you bring them back up to 1 hit point less than full in a quick ritual that lights up the area around you.

AURAS OF EVIL constant ability

Above and beyond simple malevolence in someone's heart, some places, things and people in the world reek of true evil, whether they are touched by fell gods or by demonic taint. You can sense this kind of greater evil by merely taking a moment and focusing, and by taking the time to make an actual Awareness check you may be able to discern the source or nature of the evil if it is disguised.

BLESS WEAPON focused spell, usable once per arena

You can clutch a weapon and imbue it with divine essence at the cost of a little bit of your health. When touching a weapon, you must declare a purpose for its blessing, whether for something quick or for a long-term goal. Any weapon thus touched does an extra point of damage each time a successful attack is made with it, but your character is permanently down a hit point. Once the purpose is reached or is declared unobtainable, the weapon loses its property and you get your hit point back.

TURN UNDEAD focused spell, usable only once after rested

By invoking your god and displaying your holy symbol, you acquire a holy or unholy aura around you and those nearby. Any non-Minion undead must test their Daring against your Commitment (at a +2) to be able to attack anyone in your party, while Minions can't attack you at all. If you remain undamaged for three rounds of concentrating, you can disperse the aura outward, either destroying (holy) or controlling (unholy) any one undead or group of minions in the same arena.

WORK THE ROOM non-combat talent, usable only once after rested

By making an impassioned speech that lasts at least five minutes, you can inspire people around you (giving them +2 to their daring or +1 to their attacks) for the next hour, or convince people of your point of view (+5 to your next Charm check if needed).

Starting Equipment

A bedroll, some holy vestments, a symbol of your faith, bread, cheese and a small bottle of wine, an ornate box filled with incenses or other ritual items, soap and some bandages.

STARTING COIN: 1d10 gp, 1d12 sp


Faith Keeper


Nimble and full of trickery, the thief is someone who can slip into difficult places and uncover secrets that no one is supposed to know.

inherent: Opportunity Knocks

Every now and then fortune smiles on you and pulls your fat out of the fire. Once per game session you get an automatic success on any Cunning or Daring test, or on a single attack roll.

limitation: Greedy

Your covetousness and dislike of sharing are constantly at odds with the obvious convenience of having friends and traveling companions.

Available Talents

BUSY HANDS focused action, usable anytime

A successful Cunning check against a same-arena opponent's Awareness allows you to remove and acquire any visible object that they are not actively holding, no matter what the situation is. During combat this is usually noticed, regardless of success.

BACKSTAB special attack, usable once per arena

By attacking an opponent that happens to be attacking somebody else this round, you get a +2 to hit them and do an extra two points of damage.

DISTRACTION focused action, usable once after rested

By making a Daring check (with a +2) instead of the usual Brawn check you would use to Throw an opponent, you can force an opponent to move to another arena that they have access to. But get this, you don't even need to be in the same arena! You do need to describe how you did it, however (Also handy outside of combat for luring enemies into places you want them to be).

ENDLESS DAGGERS constant item

You like to always have a cache of sharp things hidden around your person, which you can use above and beyond your main weapon as a secondary Ranged or Light weapon. Any attempts to disarm you will always result in your having at least one small blade somewhere that was missed. These daggers do not count towards your total number of weapon types.

QUICK REACTION immediate reaction, usable anytime

Whenever you are surprised by something or someone, including traps, you get to add a +2 on the next die roll you make as long as it happens directly afterwards.

The Elf

A creature of the mysterious woods, the Elf has a natural grace that comes from being one of the first-created. Elves blend martial skills with a natural affinity for certain magic.

inherent: Pointed Awareness

You've got a sense of the world around you that seems almost unnatural. You get to increase your starting Awareness bonus by one, and any initiative roll you make is improved by two.

limitation: Restless

For whatever reason, you're driven in a way that other elves are not, and you've left your people to go adventuring. You know this sets you apart from your kind and other elves think of you as strange.

Available Talents

PERFECT ACCURACY delayed attack, usable once per arena

Any delayed attack you attempt to make with a Ranged weapon gets a +2 added to the attack roll if it's not interrupted by the Attack Turn. Outside of combat, as long as you aim for at least a minute at something that you can see, you will always hit it. You can initiate combat this way.

ANIMAL FRIEND constant ability

You can speak with any natural animal of the forest (and a few outside the forest), though they may not want to be friends with you. If you do manage to make friends with an animal, it will travel with you and help you out for at least a day, maybe more.

FOREST STEP constant ability

You get a +2 bonus to any roll that a DM requires you to make in order to travel from one arena to another. You also happen to be untrackable and never get lost in the woods.

FEY SPIRIT focused spell, usable only once after rested

You can summon a floating light source that follows your commands, including being able to shine as brightly as a torch or as dim as a candle. Alternately, you can bind the spirit to a single item to light up the same way, specifying what conditions make it glow (Orcs being near is a common one).

NIMBLE ATTACK focused attack, usable once per arena

By making a Focused attack, you can attack an opponent in an unexpected way (usually by describing something cool with the environment), doing an extra point of damage as well as some extra sort of Cool Effect if you successfully hit (knocking them down, making them feel foolish, carving your initial, etc).

Starting Equipment

A naturally camouflaging cloak, some elven waybread, a waterskin, a small sack of nuts and berries, an exquisite cutting knife, a rune or other heirloom, and a lodestone.




The Dwarf

The Dwarf is a bearded ball of boastful fury hailing from underground realms. They are natural craftsmen and warriors, and tend to be fiercely loyal.

inherent: Fierce & Proud

You're a dwarf, so you cannot be Pushed out of your arena (alas, you can still be Thrown). Your starting Commitment bonus is increased by one.

limitation: Proud & Fierce

You have a hard time forgiving any slight you think is made against you.

Available Talents

BRAIDS OF THE CLAN constant ability

Any regular dwarf that you meet, no matter where you are, you happen to know them or know someone that does, and easily have something to talk about. These dwarves are usually eager to provide you with help or information, so you've always got someone to rely on.

SHIELD BASH special weapon attack, usable once-per-arena

If you are wielding either a Shield or a Hammer, you can attempt a special attack that also stuns an opponent, preventing them from using the Attack action this round or the next.

IMPRESSIVE PARTYING constant ability

Frankly, when it comes to celebrating and carousing, no-one else holds up. You automatically beat any non-dwarf at any sort of drinking or cursing contest. Matches against other Impressive Partiers involve a standard contested Commitment or Daring roll.

MAKE AN OATH focused attack, usable only once after rested (oaths are serious business, after all)

By spending a few moments making some sort of solemn vow ("You shall not pass", "Only you shall feel my axe", etc.), you get a +1 bonus to all attack rolls as long as the vow's conditions are in effect. Once the vow is broken somehow, all your combat rolls suffer a -1 until the combat ends.

UNDER THE MOUNTAIN constant ability

You can never get lost when you're underground and you're always able to sniff which direction leads up to the surface. Furthermore, any Awareness check you make that relates to searching stonework or deducing qualities thereof is given a +4.

Starting Equipment

A small hammer and pick, a bag of Dwarven hardbread, an aleskin, an extra mug, armor and weapon polish, a whetstone, and a portable set of weighing scales.

STARTING COIN: 1d12 gp, 1d12 sp



The Goblin

Smaller of stature than all the other classes, the Goblin is a curious and sometimes dangerous creature that has been touched by malevolence. Some Goblins are evil, others merely mischievous.

inherent: Dungeon-wise

You are able to see quite well in the dark. You are only about two-and-a-half to three feet tall, so it's very easy to get into places that your fellow adventurers cannot. You can speak to and understand most monsters. Your starting Cunning bonus is increased by one.

limitation: Hated

Trying to fit in in a civilized environment can be difficult. Not that there aren't goblins that manage to fit into regular human or demi-human society, but it doesn't change the constant distrust that people seem to have of you.

Available Talents

CAST-IRON STOMACH constant ability

You can eat pretty much anything. You can retrieve it later if you're willing to get your hands dirty. You always have a Light weapon, even if you've been disarmed, thanks to those sharp teeth of yours.

SHADOWKIN focused action, can do anytime

As long as there's a dark place nearby, you can quickly disappear, and anybody attempting to attack you must succeed at an Awareness check vs. your Cunning first. Once successfully in the shadows, you recieve a +2 on your next attack, after which you are once again clearly visible.

SLIPPERY immediate reaction, usable once per arena

The first attack on you during a round you've spent Moving automatically misses; but you cannot choose the Move action on the following round.

UNDERFOOT immediate reaction, usable only once after a rest

You can give up an existing action to automatically succeed at Impeding someone, and doing so trips them up enough that their next roll is made at a -1 (don’t forget to remind the DM).

HEART OF GOLD non-combat talent, usable only once after a rest

Every now and then, your normally sinister nature is completely subverted by random acts of adorability. By breaking into a huge innocent smile, no non-player-character will possibly be able to believe that you've done something bad. Your fellow party members may know better, however.

Starting Equipment

A collection of dead and dried rats tied to a stick, a single beautiful gemstone, 1d4+1 miscellaneous adventuring gear culled from the other class's equipment lists.




Weapons & Arenas


Some weapons, armor and other things (like treasure) that you’ll find in the world are Heavy. Sometimes other things you’ll find are Very Heavy.

Your Brawn bonus also counts as the number of Heavy things that you can carry around comfortably and still do flashy and heroic stuff without a problem.

If you are carrying more Heavy things than your brawn allows, that means you’re staggering around encumbered and you automatically fail every roll you make until you put them down.

Very Heavy things count as two Heavy things.

If your Brawn bonus is zero, you can only ever carry one Heavy thing (which counts as being encumbered). If your Brawn bonus is less than zero, you can’t carry any Heavy items at all.

your starting weapon

You start the game with a single type of weapon. This can be any weapon you can imagine, as long as you designate it under whichever category makes the most sense for it.

Eventually by adventuring, defeating foes, or simply taking time to shop you can acquire other weapons. However, any weapon type you carry beyond your first two counts as a Heavy item.

Weapon Types and Arena Types

LIGHT WEAPONS 1 point of damage

Smaller and quicker than other melee weapons. Using a light weapon allows you to roll 3d10 instead of 2d10, ignoring the value shown on the lowest die.

Examples: shortswords, rapiers, one-handed maces, daggers, truncheons, nunchucks, clawed gloves



Narrow places that often limit your mobility somehow.

REACH WEAPONS 1 point of damage

These are usually pole-arms or cool chain-based weapons. It’s easier to keep your enemies at bay, so wielding one improves your Armor Class by one category.



Places where footing is difficult or visibility is limited and requires care.

Examples: quarterstaff, poleaxe, spear, flail, net-and-trident, sword-and-chain

RANGED WEAPONS 1 point of damage

You attack earlier in Combat order, and can attack an opponent that’s in an adjacent arena as well as the one you’re in.



Stark, wide-open areas where there is little to no cover.

Examples: long or shortbow, blowgun, sling, bola, crossbow, throwing spear

HEAVY WEAPONS 2 points of damage

Nice and big, so they do an extra point of damage if you manage to hit with them.

Examples: bastard sword, warhammer, battleaxe, falchion, spiked ball-and-chain

VERY HEAVY WEAPONS 2 points of damage (sometimes 4)

Frickin’ huge and powerful, requiring both hands (no shield). They also do an extra point of damage; beating an opponent’s armor class by 5 or more does
two extra points of damage.

Examples: caber, spiked club, zweihander, double-headed axe



A crowded environment that has lots of fiddly but smashable bits that might get in the way.

A bland or ambiguous environment that’s hard to define. No weapon type gets a bonus in a neutral arena.

Armor & Healing

The Five Different Armor Classes

No Armor (AC 8)

Examples: barbarian loincloth, foppish clothes, a stylish hat, wizardly robes with stars and moons

Light Armor (AC 10)

Examples: regular or studded leathers, chain shirt, a bunch of buckles

Heavy Armor (AC 12)

Examples: breastplate over chainmail with a helmet, scale mail outfit, plates over leather

Very Heavy Armor (AC 14)

Examples: seriously bitchin’ set of full-plate, spikes optional

Uber Armor (AC 16)

Very special or unusual armor class, generally can only be found on the rare bad guy or dangerously hard-to-kill monster. Generally not wearable by player characters.

Fighting with No Armor

is totally awesome and a surviving character will thus automatically earn 2 Awesome Points.


These armors optionally come with Shields.

Shields cannot be used in conjunction with Ranged or Very Heavy weapons.

Shields do not improve your Armor Class, but they can be used to soak damage:

A Light Shield can be immediately sacrificed to reduce one attack to a single point of damage.

A Heavy Shield will become damaged if used in such a manner, and getting hit again destroys it. Damaged shields can be repaired during down time.

Using up Hit Points

Any damage dealt to you that checks off your last hit box, you must roll to see if you are Knocked Out or Bleeding Out.

Roll a d10.

If you rolled a 4 or higher

Fortunately you are only Knocked Out, and have to sit out the rest of combat recovering and gathering your strength again (unless someone manages to heal you somehow), at the end of which you get to pick yourself up and uncheck a box.

If you rolled a 1, 2 or 3

Uh-oh, your character is Bleeding Out and needs attention and some sort of immediate healing! Without that healing, at the end of combat your character will have to make a successful Commitment check of ten or better or die.

Saving your Bacon

If a fellow party member in the same arena gives up their action the following round after you start Bleeding Out, they can patch you up and change your status to Knocked Out.

Healing After Combat


Not really a beating, more like a strenous workout. If you can arrange a scene in the game where you can rest for an hour or so, catch your breath, maybe get a bite to eat or drink, then you’re back to full.


You’re feeling pretty messed up. You’ll need at least a full day’s bed rest to recover all your hit points.

Once you’ve recovered your hit points, you’ve acquired a Scar. Make sure to note where it is and how you got it on your character sheet.

Combat Rules

How to Attack Stuff

Roll 2d10!

  • Using a weapon in its preferred arena gives you +2
  • Being a fighter gets you an extra +1
  • Light weapons let you roll 3d10, drop lowest
  • Some talents can also give you a bonus


A successful hit always does at least one point of damage. Use Awesome Points, Heavy Weapons or Talents to increase this, or luck out and hit them in the face (see below).


One of the d10 you roll should be different from the other. This is your Face Die. Anytime you roll a ten (zero) on your face die when successfully hitting an opponent, you hit them in the face, which does an extra point of damage!


Initiative is something that’s only rolled once you reach an action phase where multiple opposing combatants have decided to act. Each character or
group of bad guys rolls a single d10 at the beginning of the action to determine the order. Quick maneuvers like switching weapons, grabbing
something, or using Awesome Points to recover damage are generally considered “free.”

The Round

A Round of combat is played in this order.

Each combatant gets to choose only one of these actions to perform each round. NOTE: Turn 7 cannot be chosen, as it’s part of Turn 3.

1. Defend or Protect

Choosing either of these options means forgoing direct action in favor of taking a reactive stance which allows you to make a Counter-attack against everyone that successfully hits you in the attack turn of this round.

Choosing to Defend means that your Armor Class goes up by one category (+2).

Choosing to Protect means any attacks this round that target a chosen friend in your arena will attack you instead.

2. Shoot

If you have a Ranged Weapon, you may make an attack against anyone in your arena or in an adjacent arena (this being the only non-talent way to attack someone not in your arena).

You can also choose to “hold and aim” and attack at any point later in the combat in order to interrupt someone’s focus or decide who to attack once you see what they’re doing.

3. Focus or Impede

If you decide to use a Focus Talent (like casting a spell), it’s at this point you announce what you’re starting to do and enter a period of vulnerability before the successfully effects of the talent go off on Turn Seven.

Alternately you can attempt to Impede someone, spending your round preventing them from leaving the arena you’re both in. To do so requires testing your Daring against their Cunning. If you succeed, you may have also managed to Corner them (see Turn Seven).

4. Move

Not just “moving around” (which anyone can usually do as they like within the arena they’re in), this action allows you to Move your character into an adjacent arena, possibly even one you suggest to the DM on the spot.

However, moving to a new arena may require a successful Attribute test if the arena is difficult to get to (climbing onto a roof or jumping over a pit, for example), hopefully your DM will warn you of this beforehand.

If someone managed to successfully Impede you, at this point you can attempt to counter-attack them if you wish.

5. Attack

This action allows you to attack anybody you share the arena with.

Be sure to describe your attack in an exciting way, preferably with lots of hand gestures.

6. Push or Throw

You can attempt to move yourself and any number of opponents into an adjacent (and easily-accessible) arena by Pushing them, which requires testing a single Cunning roll against each of their Commitment rolls. If any of them win the test, none of you move.

Alternately you can attempt to Throw a single opponent into another arena by testing your Brawn versus either their Awareness or their Commitment (their choice).

7. Focused Events

At this point any Focused actions go off (initiative rolled if needed to determine order) but only if the focuser remained undamaged until now.

If you successfully Impeded someone, and also didn’t take any damage since then, the Impede turns into a Cornering and they cannot choose the Move action the following round, either.

Rewarding Awesomeness

The DM has a big old pile of Awesome Points. This is called The Stack.

In the middle of the table is a bowl of Awesome Points as well. This is called, for lack of a better term, The Bowl. A game session usually starts off
with the DM putting about 2.5 x the number of players worth of points into the bowl, rounding up.

At any time–whether during character creation, someone saying something hilarious about the current events, a particularly slick move by a player character, whatever–when someone does something awesome, anyone can reach into the bowl and give that someone an Awesome Point.

Hopefully throughout the game lots of awesome stuff is happening and you should start running out of points in The Bowl. Sometimes the rules specifically say something you do deserves an Awesome Point (like surviving a fight without any armor, or making significant progress on an Adventuring Goal), and when that happens you should make a big deal of it and the DM should give you your Awesome Points directly out of The Stack.

Sometimes crappy things happen to the players.

Sometimes the DM pumps up the damage that the bad guys do to you, or heals them a bit after you’ve hit them particularly hard; sometimes the DM says things like, “unfortunately, there are just too many guards and they manage to tie you up and throw you into jail,” or reinforcements show up to
help the guys you’re fighting, or the DM decides that an evil villain manages to shrug off your spell and get away (the bastard), and when he or she does that the DM should just own up to what’s going on and put a bunch more Awesome Points in The Bowl from The Stack.

Some Ways You Might End up Spending Your Awesome Points

1 Point

  • Add a +2 to any Attribute Roll.
  • Have something handy or nearby within reach.
  • Add a cool effect to an Attack or Attribute Roll.
  • Use a per-arena talent again in the same arena

2 Points

  • Do one more point of damage after a successful attack.
  • Heal a single point of damage that you’ve just taken.
  • Create an NPC you have a relationship with.
  • Recharge a rested Talent outside of combat.

3 Points

  • Use a Talent from your class that you don’t have yet.

Don’t forget to check off an experience box on your class sheet!

NOTE: Generally, spending Awesome Points doesn’t constitute as some sort of action in and of itself, it just adds to an action you’re doing.

Leveling Up

You level up when everybody at the table has spent (and checked off) twelve Awesome Points on their class sheets. Sometimes there’s one or two people lagging behind the rest of you, and you should keep in mind that that’s probably your fault for not rewarding them enough when they do something awesome, so see what you can do to help with that.

When that final Awesome Point is spent, try to get in a good cheer around the table and trade some high-fives but then go back to finishing your combat or the scene you’re in or whatever’s going on when it happens, because leveling up doesn’t actually happen until your characters get a moment of peace and realize they have new abilities.


improve an attribute

Choose one of your six Attributes and increase the written bonus by one.

pick a new talent

Select one new talent and add it to your character sheet.

But wait! The new talent that you pick doesn’t have to be from your class – You can pick any talent from any of the classes that you like. However, doing so requires following two important rules:

  • You can never have more cross-class talents than you have class talents, and
  • If someone is playing the class you want a talent from, you must get their permission.


  • Fighter with some Cleric talents. PALADIN
  • Fighter plus some Goblin and Dwarf. BARBARIAN
  • Some amalgamation of Thief/Fighter/Elf talents. RANGER
  • Goblin “reskinned” with Thief and Dwarf talents. GNOME
  • Goblin meets Elf with a dash of Magic User. HALFLING
  • Cleric plus Elf or vice versa. DRUID

Going Adventuring

It takes a lot of courage and a little bit of foolhardiness to be an adventurer, and good adventuring is usually about treading that thin line between risking great danger for great reward and reknown, or getting in over your head and losing it all.

A lot of the time these sorts of situations will involve testing your character’s various attributes against the challenge that you’re hoping to resolve. It’s up to the DM to explain the parameters of whatever situation you might find yourself in but it’s usually up to you to decide how your character is going to face it.

Challenging Your Character

While your chosen class might primarily define what you are (or at least what you start off as), it’s your attributes that define what you can do. Generally, directing your character’s actions is as simple as explaining and describing what you are doing, whether in first person or third. Your DM will let you know if you succeed or fail, usually giving you a reason why; but to make it more dramatic, sometimes–lots of times–he (or she) might leave it up to chance and ask you to test one of your attributes to determine your success.

Testing an Attribute

Determine with your DM which one of your character’s six Attributes is most aproppriate for the situation.

The DM then decides an Attribute you’re rolling against, whether it’s contested against another person or the work of another person. If they can’t think of one, that’s okay too.

Roll a d12 and add (or subtract) your Attribute bonus to it. The DM also rolls a d12 and adds (or subtracts) an Attribute bonus they think is the most suitable, or leaves it unmodified if one doesn’t seem aproppriate.

Meeting or exceeding the DM’s roll* counts as a success. Rolling below or rolling a 1 is always a failure.

(* If you are contesting another Player Character in some way then a tie is just that — a tie, with neither PC getting the upper hand. You can simply try again or call it a draw.)

Creating Encounters & Running Combat

Some Example Arenas

Tight: Narrow corridors, stairs, balconies, back alleys, doorways, tunnels, closets, etc.

Hazardous: Crumbly rooftops, floors next to open pits, thin ledges or
planks over precipices, spiky areas, murky swamps, foggy or smoky room with poor visibility, etc.

Open: The open sky (for flying), large chambers, big caverns, open water, courtyard or town square, an actual gladiatorial arena, etc.

Dense: The crowded shop, the thick forest, the thatch village, the
store room or warehouse, the deck of a ship, the clockwork chamber, etc.

Neutral: The can’t-figure-out-which-arena-this-is arena.

Adjudicating the Round

Sometimes players will want to do something that doesn’t fall under one of the standard actions. Some guidelines:


make it a Focus action.


make it an Attack action.


Decide whether it’s worth really losing a whole round for, then either let the player add it to a regular action or simply choose when would be the most appropriate phase in the round.

unarmed combat

Someone wants to attack without a weapon?

Have them roll 2d10 as normal but only count the higher die. A player may spend one Awesome Point after rolling to add any Attribute bonus they want, provided they can explain how it helped hit, and then inflict a single point of damage.

If both opponents are unarmed, both get an additional +2 to their attacks, and neither can Bleed Out from the fight.

Monsters & Powers

Minions & Vermin

These are 1-hit-point guys that you should feel free to spill onto the combat scene in great numbers (up to double the number of players, give or take, is pretty safe).

Their undefined weapons (or claws) are crappy and never get an arena bonus (though they might be ranged), and they only get to roll 1d10 each to attack (not a face die), meaning they’re almost always harmless one-on-one.

They do like to gang up, however. When you roll for two or more Minions attacking the same PC, take the top 2 rolls and add them together, discarding the rest. If it hits, the minions managed to do a point of damage, and if you’re feeling nasty you can feed a couple of Awesome Points into the Bowl to make it two*.

They usually have Light Armor or AC 10.

Guards & Creatures

Tougher than Minions, Guards have two hit points, roll 2d10 (or 3d10 if using Light) to attack, and have one of the Weapon Types which will grant them an arena bonus. Armor Class can vary, but if they are humanoid I often like to equip them with Light Shields just to make sure that they survive that first attack (see the Shield rules). I usually then flip the token over to help track who’s wounded or not.

Bad Guys, Monsters & Evil Villains

These guys have 5 to 10 hit points or so and along with all the benefits of Guards or Creatures have access to various Powers, which can either be Talents from the class sheets, something from the sidebar, or something else you come up with, either beforehand or on the spot.

Freaky Big Monsters

These are the 15 hit point things (sometimes even more) with Very Heavy Weapon type attacks (and often multiple other types as well) that have access to multiple Powers and can often reach into Adjacent Arenas with impunity.

Save them for when your players are really stocked up on Awesome Points and short on humility.


  • “Pump” damage done in some gleefully descriptive way.
  • Impose some sort of Condition or Effect with a successful attack (set on fire, temporarily blind, etc) that the player can roll to avoid (usually Commitment).
  • Bring in Reinforcements (a la 2-AP cost of “creating an NPC relationship).
  • Anything else that would be awesomely interesting and challenging.

Some Possible Powers

Flying creatures usually have access to the “Open Sky” arena and don’t often have a problem moving from one Arena to another.

Pulling: a favorite of Giant Spiders and long-tongued Frog Demons, this is the ability to yank a PC from an adjacent Arena into their own and attack them. Alternately, Siren-like creatures like to open a combat by Pulling everybody into their arena with a Focus action.

Poison or Energy Drain: Really nasty Assassins or Undead favor attacks that
force Commitment checks when they damage that have the potential to place
negatives on all die rolls.

Blast Effect: This attack requires everyone in an Arena to make a Cunning
or Daring check or take damage.

Leech: Rolling a 10 on any attack die allows this monster to regain a hit point.

Some Monsters and Magic-wielding Bad Guys have the power to Change the Arena type (often to “Hazardous”) with a successful Focus action. Others may be able to Create a new Arena and force PCs into it by Awesome-Point pumping an attack, like, say, swallowing someone whole into their Stomach (tight).

Most of the Freaky Big Monsters are able to do an extra action if a specific action is successful, like being able to Throw or Corner an opponent with every successful Attack.

Magic Items & Treasure

However much you wish to heed them, Magic Items in Old School Hack have the following rules:

Magic Items can only be found, stolen, or received as gifts; they cannot be purchased, unless it is from what certainly must be the strangest store ever - the finding of which should have been an adventure in and of itself.

Magic Items are rare and are usually inscribed with runes or decorations and have many rumors floating around about them. Therefore, every magic item must come with a Story.

Many such treasures will not even function unless the story is known. When the players find a Magic Item, either the DM or the players must come up with the story behind it, unless the DM wishes it to remain a mystery to be solved.

Magic Items essentially function as equipment that, when carried, worn or used, will give you access to Talent-like Powers, many of which involve some balance of positive and negative benefits. Unlike Talents, the Powers granted from Magic Items come in four different categories, and are not rechargeable through the use of Awesome Points.



These powers are either constantly functioning or can be activated as needed anytime you want.


Mostly the province of Potions and Scrolls, these Magic Items are consumed or broken once used.


These Magic Items can only be activated once a day.


These wand-like items have a limited number of charges before they are used up or broken. Roll a d10 everytime you use it. On a one, the item becomes mundane and non-magical. Sometimes there are rituals or other ways to "recharge" an expired Magic Item.

Magic Items


Anyone looking through this Jewel can see all sorts of unusual things (invisibility, things far away, the future of something, the past, whatever the DM decides is appropriate as well as a +2 to any Focused Awareness check). Large Spiders of all types feel ownership of this item and will attack anyone they see with it.


This odd-looking wizard's hat allows you to pull out any small innocuous item of limited value; or a small,
furry and completely harmless creature; your choice of either. If a 10 is rolled on the Charge roll, the item is something quite dangerous instead, DM's choice.


This curious bit of furnishing not only really ties the room together, but it can also levitate and transport sitting passengers through the air. Due to some irregularities in its creation, it can seat either one person or three, but not two.


These trousers are simply the most comfortable pants you will ever hope to wear, ever.


Not only does drinking this potion completely heal you up to full, but rolling a 3 or lower on a d10 when drinking it means you gain an extra hit point that lasts until you take damage, and you may erase one of your scars.


Anyone wearing this ring is obligated to tell the truth, no matter what.


Tapping these bracers together causes a fiery explosion to erupt and propogate outward, causing 2 points of fiery damage to anyone else failing a Cunning check in the wearer’s Arena and potentially setting things on fire.


This +1 Very Heavy Weapon does not encumber and can be sheathed in flames at the bearer's command. It does an extra point of damage against Lizardkin and Dragons if the wielder shouts “snicker-snack!”.


This magical rope can be used as a reach weapon that automatically Corners an opponent with a successful attack (but causes no damage). However, whether used in combat or not, the rope will invariably untie itself in 1d10 rounds.


Tapping this +1 Reach Weapon on the ground causes weapon belts (and occasionally undergarments) of people in the same Arena to loosen and drop. Sadly, the staff has no way of telling friend from foe.


These dangerously treated seeds will sprout annoying, thorny thistles in any Arena they are thrown into, making it Hazardous.


While wearing this belt, the wearer is forced to be nice to dwarves. Whether they’re nice back is up to them.


This ring constantly evades any attempts at wearing it. If one manages to successfully put it on, the wearer gets a +2 bonus to all Cunning checks to avoid someone Impeding them.


Whenever this instrument is played, anyone in the same Arena must make a Commitment check or begin dancing uncontrollably. They can still fight (at a -2 disadvantage), they just look extremely foolish doing so.


If this +1 Ranged Weapon is successfully thrown at an enemy, it will continue to bite them through following rounds unless a successful Daring check is made to get rid of it, whereupon it returns to the wielder. Any creature killed by it shows up as an ingredient in a new recipe.

magic weapons

Magic Weapons that are listed as having a plus bonus do not in fact give you a permanent bonus to attack and
damage rolls.

When using a “plus something” Magic Weapon, you can spend up to that bonus in Awesome Points to add to your hit roll on any given attack, and adding to the damage only costs one Awesome Point, not two.

FAQ & Final Comments

Other Stuff

By Luke (Nareau)

1 GP

Cheap Adventuring Stuff: rope, 10’ pole, fishing gear, torches, rations, staves, slings, a meal, an ale, a night at the tavern.

5 GP

Basic Stuff: thieves tools, lanterns, tents, carts, donkeys, swords, axes, a night at the brothel, a night of drinking.

25 GP

Cool Stuff: horses, most light armor, elven wine, holy water, spyglass, bribing a crooked guard.

100 GP

Expensive: warhorses, most heavy armor, an exotic animal, a carriage.