Wondering Monster

Some Simple Black Hack Races

I’m a big fan of David Black’s The Black Hack, a set of streamlined OSR rules for fantasy adventures. I think of it less as a system - although it does present one! - and more as a bundle of really neat tricks, mechanics, and DMing advice to plunder.

Recently while using The Black Hack for a one-shot, my players expressed a desire to get their teeth into race-based mechanics, which are absent from The Black Hack. To that end, here is an extremely simple set of racial rules for The Black Hack (and most OSR games). It’s nothing remarkable, but it scratches the itch of racial mechanics which feel D&Dish. It’s also such a small collection of attributes that it won’t easily be forgotten!

What these rules don’t offer is flat ability score modifiers - just advantage to specific rolls. While racial ability modifiers are a classic aspect of D&D races, I don’t care for them because they can quickly break an otherwise perfectly serviceable character build. By offering advantage to specific checks, these rules encourage interesting roleplaying choices, while ability score modifiers don’t really encourage any kind of gameplay.


  • Darkvision out to a distance of Faraway.
  • Advantange on CON tests to resist the effects of poison.
  • Speak Common and Dwarvish.


  • Advantage on WIS tests against being charmed, and cannot be put to sleep by magic.
  • Advantage on INT tests to notice traps, secret doors, and hidden dangers.
  • Speak Common and Elvish.


  • If you roll a 1 for an attack or test, you can re-roll the die and take the new result, even if it’s a 1.
  • Advantage on WIS tests to resist being frightened.
  • Speak Common and Halfling.


  • Advantage on CHA tests to befriend or persuade members of any other sentient race.
  • Speak Common and two additional languages.

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