Yesterday I had the pleasure of playing in a game of The Whitehack run by Horst Wurst, The Gardens of Ynn!

Yesterday I had the pleasure of playing in a game of The Whitehack run by Horst Wurst, The Gardens of Ynn!

Yesterday I had the pleasure of playing in a game of The Whitehack run by Horst Wurst, The Gardens of Ynn! I was pumped for it as of sign-up and dang, it exceeded my expectations. Let me talk a little bit about why, both regarding impressions of the module but also the system, as it is my first time actually playing with it.

This module is super cool. We are adventurers going to get rich and looking for some kids in this surreal garden; not exactly a revolution in my brain there. However, as soon as you enter the garden, shit gets real. The procedural generation of the spaces is super cool; the results evocative. We are only one session in and I definitely want to discover more.

There is time fuckery, literal machinations beneath the ground, and we always have the option of staying in a given space to spend time with it or like just take off. We were also told that we should be thinking about out items for fictional positioning and if we just wanted to go hack things up… we’d be having a bad time. If you stay in an area time passes as well. We didn’t really get the connotations of what that means, though.. and still don’t? I like that! Are we going to emerge from the gardens into like an altogether different time period or something? Are we going to age rapidly when exiting? Cool!

We only got to navigate a couple of these spaces but all had cool sensations around them. Smells; sights; taste; sounds, etc.Evocative and interesting. I hope that continues. We met a talking cat. Saw some skeletons as human-sized peacock things were mesmerizing a poor boy, presumably ready to devour him.

Can’t wait to see what more happens~~

System-wise:

Some people may know that I have barely any working knowledge of Dungeons and Dragons. I played a couple adventures I recall very little of when in junior high school, then reentered the hobby 5-6 years ago by way of DnD Encounters, Pathfinder Society, etc.; hated it, eventually found online gaming, then finally found this community and could not be happier.

So 2 years or so ago (is) when I purchased The White Hack, I was very excited by the design work and could imagine how it might go. So much so I took inspiration from how class creation worked to put it in this month’s Codex issue! I finally got the opportunity to play it thanks to Horst, and my word, I just loved the whole experience.

The Deft, The Wise, and The Strong are the character classes. Elegant, subjective, and open to interpretation. Evocative names, good examples. What you choose as your ‘thing’ in the game allows you to do difficult tasks with complete success if you’re deft. The Wise have miracles that are negotiated and cost HP. So. Much. Cool. Stuff!

The notions of Groups to craft previous life experience (lifepaths) and the other associated fiction you should have for your character is a bit of a mental hurdle at first, but ultimately very helpful in having you place some cognitive load as to what is important about this person and therefore granting them better fictional positioning. These things being coupled with mechanics was like a breath of fucking fresh air for me. I felt like notions I had about what my character ought to be good at actually mattered. My internal subjective ideas were externally supported by the system as I came up with them on the fly.

I ended up deciding to play a wandering Deft monk. In the gardens we came across a suspicious, foaming at the mouth mind, talking cat; I asked the referee, Horst, if I might have experience with these things having wandered about for ages and encountered strangers often. Specifically, I wanted to know if they were trying to ambush us or otherwise lie, etc. Because I might have been set upon before in my travels, I gained that fictional positioning and rolled with Advantage.

These things about my character I decide are important are each tied to a stat, which I’m less crazy about. Why not just have it so when it makes sense I get Advantage, right? Why does it have to be only when I’m being intelligent or wise I get this benefit? Most of the time characters will be rolling specific stats for what they’re good at anyhow, I’m sure. I’m super high in DEX and my fictional positioning beside DEX is that I was trained in martial arts at the monastery, for instance. Super cool.

Another thing I loved was critical roll target numbers being the exact stat value, that’s a really small but fun thing. The design work really makes it feel like it’s all about the characters; empowering them with just enough fictional positioning that they get excited about contributing without dictating too much.

One thing I didn’t like much was that you can also be squishy AF. I myself and one another started with just 2 HP, which made me feel way too precious about my character. Sure, they could die and I could roll up another… but I just thought up all these cool ass things for my monk! I want to gain levels and gain even more Groups! In that sense, it feels a bit at odds with the system goals. But I was also told there are some fail-safes in the text that make it a little harder to die; I’ll have to revisit the text.

The end result was a Venetian Deft Thief, Vincenzo di Pasqua (Jason Cordova ); a wandering Deft Monk (myself), A Wise Clockwork Tinkerer (Paul Staxx Spraget ); a Strong Bodyguard (Shane Liebling ); all walked into the msyterious Garden of Ynn!

How fucking cool is that, right?!

http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/237544/The-Gardens-Of-Ynn?term=gardens+of+&test_epoch=0

18 thoughts on “Yesterday I had the pleasure of playing in a game of The Whitehack run by Horst Wurst, The Gardens of Ynn!”

  1. Dude, you just have to get a decent portal-type spell, open it underneath you with the exit right above you and boom — massive acceleration and falling for as long as the spell lasts. No idea how to land, thought. 😉

  2. Dude, you just have to get a decent portal-type spell, open it underneath you with the exit right above you and boom — massive acceleration and falling for as long as the spell lasts. No idea how to land, thought. 😉

  3. Sounds awesome. I’m a huge fan of Whitehack myself, I was running a session earlier this evening.

    Gardens of Ynn is something else I’m keen to get to the table.

  4. Sounds awesome. I’m a huge fan of Whitehack myself, I was running a session earlier this evening.

    Gardens of Ynn is something else I’m keen to get to the table.

  5. Whitehack is a strange beast. It goes back to the very beginning of the hobby (only three classes, only two type of dice) and seems a lot more conservative than The Black Hack for example (movement rate, encumbrance rules, resource management). On the other side the relationship between Referee and players is less “authoritarian” (no judgement here and certainly no implication about power dynamics) than in many other old-school games: The way your group might come into play for a relevant task, how miracles work and how much they cost, there are all subject to negotiations between Referee and players. The following advice could be straight out of Blades in the Dark: “Always remember that you are creating a collective narrative on the game world’s condition, where each agreement serves as a precedent for the next.”

    Furthermore after level 10 Christian Mehrstam suggests that players take responsibility over aspects of the game world like Politics or News increasing the impact the players and player characters have on the game world.

    As an aside: The lifepath option I hacked into the game in order to make it work more smoothly for our 17th century setting. It replaces species as a group option.

    Emmy Allen’s Gardens of Ynn is simply amazing. I can’t wait to see what kind of weirdness the dice will bring us next time.

  6. Whitehack is a strange beast. It goes back to the very beginning of the hobby (only three classes, only two type of dice) and seems a lot more conservative than The Black Hack for example (movement rate, encumbrance rules, resource management). On the other side the relationship between Referee and players is less “authoritarian” (no judgement here and certainly no implication about power dynamics) than in many other old-school games: The way your group might come into play for a relevant task, how miracles work and how much they cost, there are all subject to negotiations between Referee and players. The following advice could be straight out of Blades in the Dark: “Always remember that you are creating a collective narrative on the game world’s condition, where each agreement serves as a precedent for the next.”

    Furthermore after level 10 Christian Mehrstam suggests that players take responsibility over aspects of the game world like Politics or News increasing the impact the players and player characters have on the game world.

    As an aside: The lifepath option I hacked into the game in order to make it work more smoothly for our 17th century setting. It replaces species as a group option.

    Emmy Allen’s Gardens of Ynn is simply amazing. I can’t wait to see what kind of weirdness the dice will bring us next time.

  7. Thank you all for the kind words, and Gardens of Ynn sounds like a fantastic module!

    In Whitehack, the first levels are intended to be like walking a tight rope, HP wise—i.e. you should feel the Reaper breathing down your neck. Like you say there are some safe-guards though, so even if you feel super squishy, you probably aren’t. (You can save or make a Con roll to avoid d6 damage every battle, and you can save or make a Con roll to avoid death if put below zero HP.) There’s also a trouble-shooting section that deals with the issue of characters seeming squishy, at the back of the book. One of the cool things about this rules tradition is that playing at levels 1–3 is very different from playing at levels 8—10. This gives players a change of pace, and you can always choose to run campaigns at a higher level. So I kept this feature when I made the rules.

    If you have a relevant group, it does give you benefits regardless of where you put it—in two cases: In trained rolls, you don’t get the penalty you otherwise would, and if you have a Deft character and it’s a relevant vocation group, you always get the double positive roll. For other groups and other classes you need to have the group written next to the proper attribute to get the positive double roll, just like you say. This allows for some specialisation. For example, even if you have two Deft Thieves that are both members of the Black Hats, they don’t have to be the same. One could have “Black Hats” written next to intelligence, meaning that she has a lot of Black Hats knowledge and information. The other might have it written next to Charisma, meaning that she is good at handling the guild’s contacts or maybe threatening people who owes the guild money. In my experience, if you remove this nuance in the system, you quickly end up with everyone knowing everything all the time. It may be fine for a one-shot or so, but in a longer campaign, the feeling of having a special character is diminished, and getting a new group or levelling so that you can move a previous group becomes less interesting.

    Whitehack may be deceptively thin—people frequently tell me that there are rules quirks and nuances that they didn’t suspect or simply missed on a first read-through. I suggest trying to play it RAW for a couple of sessions, then reading the book once more, before house ruling.

    Again, it was great waking up to this wonderful play report! I’m definitely going to look into Gardens of Ynn!

  8. Thank you all for the kind words, and Gardens of Ynn sounds like a fantastic module!

    In Whitehack, the first levels are intended to be like walking a tight rope, HP wise—i.e. you should feel the Reaper breathing down your neck. Like you say there are some safe-guards though, so even if you feel super squishy, you probably aren’t. (You can save or make a Con roll to avoid d6 damage every battle, and you can save or make a Con roll to avoid death if put below zero HP.) There’s also a trouble-shooting section that deals with the issue of characters seeming squishy, at the back of the book. One of the cool things about this rules tradition is that playing at levels 1–3 is very different from playing at levels 8—10. This gives players a change of pace, and you can always choose to run campaigns at a higher level. So I kept this feature when I made the rules.

    If you have a relevant group, it does give you benefits regardless of where you put it—in two cases: In trained rolls, you don’t get the penalty you otherwise would, and if you have a Deft character and it’s a relevant vocation group, you always get the double positive roll. For other groups and other classes you need to have the group written next to the proper attribute to get the positive double roll, just like you say. This allows for some specialisation. For example, even if you have two Deft Thieves that are both members of the Black Hats, they don’t have to be the same. One could have “Black Hats” written next to intelligence, meaning that she has a lot of Black Hats knowledge and information. The other might have it written next to Charisma, meaning that she is good at handling the guild’s contacts or maybe threatening people who owes the guild money. In my experience, if you remove this nuance in the system, you quickly end up with everyone knowing everything all the time. It may be fine for a one-shot or so, but in a longer campaign, the feeling of having a special character is diminished, and getting a new group or levelling so that you can move a previous group becomes less interesting.

    Whitehack may be deceptively thin—people frequently tell me that there are rules quirks and nuances that they didn’t suspect or simply missed on a first read-through. I suggest trying to play it RAW for a couple of sessions, then reading the book once more, before house ruling.

    Again, it was great waking up to this wonderful play report! I’m definitely going to look into Gardens of Ynn!

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