Crawl Hack

Crawl Hack

Crawl Hack is a series of tweaks to David Black’s The Black Hack.  Its intention is to preserve the lean simplicity of that game, while adding certain unique elements from Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG by Goodman Games, including a Luck attribute, powerful and unpredictable magic, attribute damage, and Mighty Deeds of Arms. 

Crawl Hack is a work in progress, and is as yet completely untested. This document is likely to change.

Crawl Hack requires knowledge of The Black Hack to make any sense at all. 

Attribute Damage

On their character sheet, players should note attributes as having both a current and maximum value. For instance, a fighter might have 15/15 strength. Certain effects, like poisons or spells, can damage an attribute. If the fighter takes three strength damage, the new value for their strength would be 12/15.

When rolling against attributes, players must roll under the current value of the attribute.

Whenever a PC is healed, the player may choose to allocate points of healing either to HP or Attribute damage, with the exception of Luck, detailed below.

In certain circumstances, a player may choose to inflict attribute damage on themselves for an effect. This is called “burning” the attribute.


Every character gets an additional attribute on top of the traditional six. This attribute, “Luck” is rolled normally at character creation. 

The GM may call for a Luck test to resolve any situation in which the primary deciding factor is pure chance. If a player asks a question about the environment or world, and the GM doesn’t have an answer on hand, it is fair to let the PC’s luck decide if the answer is favorable or not.

After testing any attribute other than luck, a player may burn any amount of luck, to reduce the result of the roll by the same amount.

Players cannot heal or regain luck during play. Once spend, luck is gone permanently. Luck can however, be raised while levelling up, as any other attribute.

It’s a bad idea to have very low luck. If something bad happens to a party member and the GM has to decide who, it should happen to the PC with the lowest luck. Conversely, if something good happens to a single party member, it should be the PC with the highest luck. 

The GM is encouraged to find additional, creative ways to use the Luck attribute. 

Changes to Arcane Spellcasting

Conjurors memorize every spell in their spellbook after 8 hours rest. Instead of tracking spell slots, each spell individually is either memorized or forgotten. Conjurors may attempt to cast any spell that is currently memorized, and at or below their maximum spell level. Use the Daily Conjuror Spell table in The Black Hack to determine maximum spell level. For example, a level 3 conjuror has a maximum spell level of 2. A level 7 Conjuror has a maximum spell level of 4.

The Spell Test

To cast a spell, the Conjuror tests Intelligence, adding twice the spell’s level to the roll. If the test fails, the spell is not cast, and the spell is forgotten. If the test succeeds, the spell is cast as normal, and not forgotten.

If the roll is particularly low, the spell may become more powerful and have increased effect. If the result of the test is 10 points or more below their intelligence score, the Conjuror may double a single aspect of the spell: Duration, Damage, Targets, Area, etc. If the result of the test is 20 or more points below their intelligence score, they may either double another aspect of the spell, or double the same aspect again, increasing it four-fold. If the ultimate result of the test is less than 1 due to spellburn, results of 0 and less should be factored into the total.

Some spells may have more nebulous effects than others when it comes to determining what to “double.” Players and GMs are encouraged to talk it out and come to a reasonable result. The GM is encouraged to be a little lenient here. Magic is dangerous and terrible.


Before making a spell test, a Conjuror may burn as many points of Strength, Constitution, or Dexterity as they wish. For each point burned, reduce the final result of the test by 1.


If the final result of a spell test is 20 or more, a misfire occurs and the spell is lost. If the roll is a natural 20, a misfire always occurs, even if spellburn was used. In addition, if spellburn was used and the result was a natural 20, the conjuror loses one point of the burned attribute permanently. If a spell misfires, roll 1d8.

  1. The caster suffers a permanent affliction or mutation related to the spell’s effect and level.

  2. One nearby ally suffers a permanent affliction or mutation related to the spell’s effect and level.

  3. Reality is warped or distorted in proportion to the spell’s level.

  4. The spell resolves against the caster instead of the target.

  5. The spell resolves against the caster and the target.

  6. The spell resolves randomly against something that is not the target.

  7. The caster draws negative attention from another world.

  8. The spell fizzles out and is not cast, but there is no other detrimental effect

The GM is encouraged to be brutal here. Magic is dangerous and terrible. 

Changes to The Warrior

Warriors can no longer attack once per level, and they can no longer sunder their shield to avoid damage. Instead they get the following two features:

Mighty Deeds of Arms: 

At the beginning of each turn in combat, the warrior rolls a deed die, and may declare a mighty deed of arms. This might include tripping or disarming an enemy, gaining an advantageous position, helping an ally, etc. If the deed die result is a 3 or higher, the Warrior performs the deed. Additionally, add the result of the deed die to the damage of every attack. 

At level 1, the deed die is a D3. Every time the Warrior gains an odd numbered level, increase the size of the deed die in this order: D4,D6,D8,D10.

Multiple Attacks:

At level 1, the warrior may make one attack per round. Every time the warrior gains an even numbered level, increase the number of attacks they can make per round by 1. 

The Cleric, Divine Spellcasting & Disapproval

As with the Conjuror, the Cleric has access to every spell in their spellbook at the beginning of the day. When the Cleric casts a spell, they must first make a spell check, adding 2x the spell’s level to the roll. If the roll is failed, the spell is not forgotten, however the cleric’s disapproval range grows by 1 for each failed roll.

If a cleric rolls a natural 20 on a spell check, they have earned the ire of their deity, and lose access to all of their spells, as well as their ability to turn undead, for the next hour.

Each time the Cleric fails a spell roll, the chance of disapproval grows. If the fails once, disapproval occurs on a 19-20. Twice, and the range grows to 18-20, and so on. The disapproval range only resets after an 8 hour rest. Hitting the disapproval range also increases the disapproval range, as with any failed spell check.

It’s possible for the disapproval range to grow large enough to overlap with what would normally be a success. For example, a cleric with 18 WIS and a disapproval range of 18-20. Treat all results in the disapproval range as failures that incur disapproval. 

Thieves’ Luck

When a thief spends luck, each point of luck spent counts as 2 when it comes to reducing the result of a die roll.

Additionally, a thief heals 1 luck after an 8 hour rest.

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