Monday, July 24, 2017

The Hateful Place House Rules (Some In Use, Others Under Consideration)

A lot of my players couldn't make it to the game on Saturday night, so I ended up postponing it until Tuesday evening. In the meantime, I thought I'd share the house rules/rulings I'm using, as well as some I've thought of but haven't tested yet.

Class Options and Mappers
I'm not exactly using "Mappers" as a separate thing a PC can have on top of their class (and maybe even on top of their "type" or subclass.) Other than a source of steady payment and a formal structure for their adventures, the two advantages of being a Mapper are that you get an extra +2 to two of your stats, and you get some nice starting equipment. (And I don't think there are any disadvantages to being a Mapper formalized in the rules, although this is The Hateful Place, so no matter what class or type or profession you have, your life is probably going to be terrible.)

I decided that characters who do not pick a "type" or subclass, like "Paladin" or "Necromancer," but just stick to being a plain Fighter, Profiteer, Believer, or Magician, get the +2 bonuses of the Mapper. Meanwhile, all characters start with the Mapper's equipment package on top of their normal starting items. "Mappers" aren't a formalized profession, but adventurers of all stripes could theoretically be commissioned for that kind of work. I figured this might make the choice between having a subclass and not having one a bit more interesting. And I think the added equipment gives players slightly more freedom to pick creative or unusual starting items instead of the usual necessities, which is fun. See Rory's holy water in my second play report, for example.

I haven't been using any subclasses from Book B or 3 yet, but I'm open to allowing them in the future, in one form or another.

I've been allowing Profiteers to apply their bonus "if trying to steal" to disarming traps and locks, as well.

Mind and Soul
In the rules as written, defense rolls against most magical effects use the Mind modifier, but some use Soul instead. Meanwhile, Mind is also used for non-magical "mental based actions." It seems to me like Soul is way less important than Mind and Body. Soul deals with a few supernatural matters, while Mind deals with most supernatural matters plus all mundane mental activities that require a dice roll. This isn't necessarily a problem, per se, but it bugged me. It would be easy to accidentally call for a Mind roll where the book would have recommended a Soul roll, since Soul has so few applications. Most of the time that wouldn't even matter, since the ability score bonuses are so small in this game and are often just +0, but if it would make a difference, and I killed a character that would otherwise have had a chance to live, I'd be a little bummed about it upon noticing my mistake.

I could have just rolled Soul into Mind and only used two ability scores, but I love the whole Mind/Body/Soul theme, and there are already so few stats in the game that I thought ditching one might be overkill. So instead, I've been using Mind almost exclusively for non-magical things of a mental nature, and Soul for all (or almost all) magic-related rolls.

Date and "Year Now"
I've been keeping the exact date vague, and even the era that the game was taking place in was something of a plot twist, and remains a little mysterious. I told my players not to worry about this. They still came up with birthplaces and ages.

This hasn't come up in play yet, but I decided that this demonic ability can work on pretty much any character, not just women.

The Campaign Experience
This hasn't come up yet, for two reasons. One, the players haven't finished the first adventure yet. Two, I originally pitched this as a one-shot or two-shot. It's already going to be a three-session adventure, and I don't know if they would want to continue this into a full-blown campaign (assuming at least one of them survives) or play something else next, or what.

But assuming I do run a campaign of this, I want to use the rules for character advancement from 3, with some modifications. First, I think this is implied in the rules, but it's not 100% clear to me, so I'll go ahead and say that characters start at Level 0. Since one's level equals the number of adventures one has survived, it would make sense that even the title of "Outlaw" would need to be earned.

Second, as much as I get a kick out of the nasty trick regarding bonuses pulled at Level 6 - it's perfectly in keeping with the tone of the game, and it's pretty funny in a trolling, faux-mean-spirited kind of way (I would just say "mean-spirited," but this is just a game, after all) - I think it might be a bit too much on top of the other, more interesting effect that happens at that level. Heck, considering that you need a 15 to succeed at pretty much any roll in the game, it might be a bit much, period. Plus, I think it might take away from the impact of the screwjob twist that happens at Level 7 if Level 6 was already a total screwjob. So I think that I would just follow the pattern of AR/DR bonuses at previous levels, with +3/+4 at Level 6 (still keeping the "benefit" for that level, of course), and +4/+4 at Level 7 (assuming bonuses apply at all once the big thing happens at Level 7). Also, I might make the "Reward" for Level 6 200,000 CUR, if that matters.

I haven't used any house rules for this yet, per se. The PCs have been getting more HP back than usual, and under less strict conditions, but that's the result of one or more specific magical effects and not a change to the rules themselves. I am thinking of a major overhaul to this system, though. Characters are already so fragile at full health that I don't see the point in making it very difficult or tedious to regain health.

I considered just letting any surviving characters regain their maximum HP at the end of every encounter, since "maximum HP" generally means "dead after an average of two hits," and nothing outside of a unique magical effect or a change to the rules allows characters to increase their maximum HP. I'm not sure I want to go that far, though. HP attrition can be a good way to scare players, after all.

I'm more likely to allow PCs to regain 2 HP per 4 hours of rest. HP can be regained even with less than a full day of rest, and if you do rest for a whole day you'll get 12 HP back. I think I would also have HP lost from spellcasting recover at the same rate as HP lost from normal damage.

Here's another thing I've been running as written, but might consider changing in the future. Since all weapons do the same damage, there isn't a whole lot to differentiate weapons mechanically - which is mostly fine, since this is a rules-light game. But since nicer weapons are sometimes presented in the book as potential rewards for successful adventures, it might be helpful to have a way to make some weapons clearly and mechanically better than others, at least in some situations. I mean, there's the obvious, common sense stuff - ranged weapons let you hit stuff without getting close, but may require you to keep track of ammunition, daggers are easier to conceal than rocket launchers, etc. But it would be nice to have something solid and mechanical to point to if a player asks "how is this weapon different from this one?" Especially since "common sense" and "realism" don't always match up with how a referee chooses to run things. I haven't cared to make my players track ammo in this game, for example.

Some things to consider:
  • Different AR bonuses for different weapons. Perhaps no extra bonus for fists and improvised weapons (as is already the case), +1 for knives and small weapons, +2 for swords, big melee weapons, and bows, +3 for crossbows and pistols, and +4 for bigger guns. I want to keep the damage the same for all attacks, though, as per the book.
  • Maybe some weapons can be used to block instead of attacking. If you block, you get the weapon's bonus to your DR instead of your AR, but then you can't block on your next round, and if you attack on your next round then you don't get your weapon bonus.
  • I probably won't do this, because it starts to leave "rules-light" territory as far as I'm concerned, but it might make sense to give different ranged weapons different effective ranges and ammo capacities. Rifles would shoot farther than pistols, and a revolver could fire more rounds before reloading than a musket.
  • Some weapons could be "high-quality," meaning that the attacker rolls 5d10 and subtracts the lowest die for damage.
  • If bombs or other area-of-effect weapons are introduced, they could hit multiple targets with one attack. If machine guns show up, maybe the attacker could choose between attacking normally (costing 1 bullet), or making an area-of-effect attack with a penalty to hit (costing a whole bunch of bullets).
Ability Modifiers
Again, I've been going by the book, but I might alter things later. The chances of having anything other than a +0 modifier seem slim, and the range of bonuses and penalties is only -2 to +2. I might switch to using the modifiers from LotFP if I want ability scores to be slightly more consequential or varied.

3 introduces all kinds of cool stuff pertaining to the sale of human flesh. The books imply that the main uses of this product are as food, ritual or spell components, implements for the mysterious activities of demons, and perhaps raw materials for strange magical or scientific experiments. But why stop there? 
  • Maybe human flesh isn't just an abundant or tasty food, but some kind of super-food, thanks to the demonic influence of the darkness.
  • Maybe it is highly addictive, but also gives supernatural abilities to those who eat it.
  • Maybe it can even be used to heal injuries and replace lost body parts - for a price, of course. (And I'm not just talking about money.)
  • Maybe human flesh is like "the spice" from Dune: once you eat it, you'll die without it.
  • Maybe someone has discovered how to convert human flesh into something that keeps monsters and (most) demons away, allowing cities and other bastions of civilization to remain somewhat intact, and now that this technology (or whatever it is) has spread far and wide it has rendered human flesh the number one most important resource for humanity's survival.
  • Maybe some demons have made a pact with humanity: now that the sun only comes out one hour per day, the only way that plants (and thus the entire ecosystem) can survive in the perpetual darkness is through demonic power, and the demons need sacrifices of human flesh in order to generate this power.
  • Maybe there's nothing special about human flesh, but demons have convinced everyone that it's the hot new commodity. The flesh market is self-perpetuating.
I should add that the game has already been very enjoyable with very few house rules. But like a lot of people who run RPGs, it's just hard for me to avoid tinkering.

If you want to catch up on my previous play reports with The Hateful Place, you can find them HERE and HEREThe Hateful Place was written by Dave Mitchell, author of Sirenswail. All three volumes of The Hateful Place, along with Sirenswail, can be bought from

Part 3 is HERE.


  1. Hi there!

    While I do not know the rules system you are writing about, how about the following options for "human flesh"?

    # # # # #

    01# Eating the Soul
    It is not just about eating the flesh. With the right ritual, with the right part involved in a ceremonial consuming of the flesh, the cannibal devours a part of the very soul of the victim. This is equal to a +1 attribute bonus (and may be stacked up to +3). The attribute in question (e.g. WIS for OSR-games) will lose the bonus after 1d4 weeks, as the soul energy of another is a thing that fleets the flesh that is not its own. At least, in regard to a human.

    02# The Flesh that Fuels me...
    Magic-Users (and perhaps even clerics, depending on the deity) may be able to memorize/prepare one additional spell if they have consumed human flesh before. The maximum level of this “Flesh-Fueled Spell” is equal to the number of victims the flesh was taken from (and the amount does not need to be more than a quarter-pound). The flesh must be eaten before the spell is memorized, and afterwards more flesh must be eaten if more or more powerful spells are to be prepared...

    03# The Flesh that Strengthens me...
    Each pound of human flesh that has been eaten temporarily increases the maximum hit points by +2. Any damage is subtracted from them first, and once they are gone they are gone (and but my be renewed by eating more...). This effect may allow a character to increase the regular maximum hit points by 50%. The damage suffered does not “disappear”: the character just goes on despite even the most heinous wounds.

    04# My meal, my sacrifice
    Each meal of human flesh generates a “chip”. Whenever the GM determines a random character to be the victim of something bad, that “chip” is depleted and the cannibal character is no longer part of fate´s lottery this time. If all characters have one or more chips, the one chip is devaluated from each of them and the lottery starts anew, until there is a sad, sad winner...

    Another option: three “chips” may be used by the player to buy one re-roll for the PC. Fate has been fed and thereby grows lenient.

    05# Might of the Devoured
    When the character has eaten the flesh of a number of humans equal to his or her own level, the character is treated as being one level higher as the PC really is, for up to 2d6 days.

    06# Robbed Vitality
    A meal of human flesh will help to help even the most grievous wounds. A human will heal twice as fast on every given day that such a meal has been eaten.

    07# Disguise my Soullight
    Consuming human flesh means consuming parts of the human soul, and such a melange makes it tricky for demons to aim at what they are after. 1D6 days after a character consumed a meal made of human flesh, all demonic powers invoked against him or her suffer a (-1) penalty.

    08# Reap me not
    Pure souls are the thing a demon relishes the most, and eating the flesh of another human being taints the soul. Whenever a character is singled out as a victim by a demon, there is a cumulative 3% chance for every meal of human flesh that the character has consumed since the last new moon that the demon will choose another target instead. Of course, if there are no other targets the demon will take what is there. If more than one “tainted” target is among the possible choices of the demon, the one with the highest total of cannibalistic meals is allowed rolled for first.

    1. Thanks again!
      For those just tuning in, you can check out Gregorius 21778's blog at as well as his PDFs on DriveThruRPG.