Sunday, August 16, 2020

Of The Lavender Hack [Review. part 2]

 (Oh yes there is a part 2)

Retainers get a modest and useful amount of coverage with the rule of Lavender Hack, a simple chart is provide to get one started and title/role, upkeep costs hitdice and arms are noted.  I like the typical figure of "hiring cost" being given as "upkeep cost" becasue it helps with the mental space of recognizes retainers as an ongoing expense and not simply an inventory item for a player character.

Lavender Hack has been interesting to this point but It begins to shine for me with the procedure and "mini-games" the rules have to handle a host of frequently occurring situatuins within RPG adventures. I can't do them all justice without retyping too much of them here (and that's not happening) but I will endeavor to outline them adequately here  .

As the author states the four pillars of Lavender Hack are exploration, encounters, factions, and downtime. As the games does we will start with Explration and Travel.  The game establishes a few units of time and distance to get an appropriate level of abstraction while still havign some immersion. Outdoor exploration is done in 4 hour long watches, picker delving involves ten minute long exploration turns and long distance travel (for big trips) is broken into legs of variable duration in days. Overland hexes are 3 miles across, ocean hexes 24 miles, and a dungeon room is approximated at 1,000 square feet.  The approximations are tied into the procedures that follow. The Company Sheet provides the means to track the passage of time along with a few other handy bits of detail.

As mentioned above there are a number of sheets provided to track resources and time as they are important to each type of exploration (ocean, wilderness, and dungeon) along with the company sheet. Fast travel is when there's lots of ground to cover quickly and detail isn't as significant to play but this requires resource expenditure nonetheless. 

Exploring the wild is classical hex crawlign tied into the rule style and procedures of this particular set of rules and is proabbly one of the most comprehensive approaches I've seen without bogging into tedium. Wilderness events can be the classic random encounter, a lair, bad weather, discord, or confronting ambition.  Now i can't help but say it I feel adding confronting ambition (of which all PCs shoud have some) is a genius way to keep the role in roleplaying for players into all the scales of roleplaying their character from the vaguely noted role to the meticulously embodied backstory rich character.Goign where you want and not getting lost is covered in more detail than is common in old-school rules but not so much as to annoy; who is leading or guiding the party is important and determines success. A party can be slowed down by encumbrance, split up, search and then they reqoup to heal, reapair gear,forage,hunt, and memorize spells. Each day ends with a camp session.

The section on High Seas exploration gives more coverage to this area than I have seen in most places. Ship crews and who serves as Captain Quartermaster, Bosun, Cook, and Gunners are all important features of ocean travel. Ocean travel is managing resources and condition of the vessel while successfully keeping the crew capable.  Giving each of the roles something to do also means something can happen for each of those roles so Ocean travel always has somehtign more than just random encounters and sea serpents.

Dungeon exploration should be familar to most old-timers but the management of it is a tad different with light and danger playing interesting roles. Managing light is essential ot the dungeon explorer. 

The section on encounters once again provides simple but surrisngly more comprehensive coverage of the old school rules.  Unsurprisingly surprise is covered as is typical and this is possibly impacted by the spotlight player or scout(s) the group is deploying. Communicating leads to the familiar but much more satisfyingly covered  creature reactions where combat isn't the only thing that ever happens when two groups encounter each other. Fleeing is covered for land and sea without bogging the game down in an mini-game that ignores other rules within the game.

Combat is satisfyingly tactical and I enjoy how naval combat is covered. Melee combat covers familiar ground and ties into the equipment rules nicely. There's room using the core rules to add more evocative combat results to the game but I suspect only a skilled DM is going to see that.

Now we come to factions. The interaction with factions is impressive and I must admit I've seen nothing as comprehensive elsewhere that wasn't tied tighter into setting. Faction relations is an important theme in campaign and the way they are covered in these rules allow the same mechanics to be used for factions of any scale in a consistent fashion. When one interacts with a faction they are courting the faction and the rules coverage here blows away most games social encounters rules in my reading of these rules.

After encounters we get Downtime. Downtime is all the non-travel, non-adventure stuff characters can get up to and includes buying and selling, training (you level up in downtime),pursuing ambitions, crafting, recovering, research, and carousing.

Magical items are covered but not in a long catalog but genral rules on their importance and creation, good stuff.

Next we come to the bestiary where a host of mundane and unusual creatures are covered.  The game uses a simple stat block that lists ArmorRating, HitDice, Movement, and Morale of each creature. Colorful descriptions are brief as are notes for special abilities. Some of the entries here are pretty standard others downright silly but a lot of ground is covered and gives enough reference for adapting the thousands of monsters found in other games.

So in conclusion The Lavender Hack Tarantual Wasp Edition provides a comprehensive set of fantasy adventure rules for exploration and interaction with a fantasy worlds as odd as a GM wishes them to be with a set of fairly cohesive procedures to cover areas many games handwave.