This thread is for discussing the quiet genius of the enigmatic game designer known as Blacky the Blackball. Blacky is an author and designer of games and game supplements. Mostly retroclones. There are a lot of retroclones, but I'm not sure that there is another rc author who is as prolific as Blacky. Daniel Proctor is the only person I can think of who comes close. But Blacky differs from Mr. Proctor in a couple of ways (note- this is not in any way intended as criticism of Daniel, who I've never met, but whose products I like and use and who, by all accounts, is a really neat guy). Firstly, he is something of a mystery. He publishes all of his works under his nom de plume
/online handle (he is a moderator over at The Piazza forums). Secondly, he puts all of his work into the public domain, or on drivethrurpg on a "pay what you want" basis. Thirdly, he doesn't just write retro-clones. He also writes what he calls "neo-clones" (rc's with updated or tweaked rules) and "mashups", which are amalgamations of the rules of two different games.
Blacky's games are pretty well reviewed for the most part. In fact, there is even an entire subforum at The Piazza dedicated to Dark Dungeons, his OD&D retro. And his games often boast a professional presentation and attention to detail that is amazing for a free product (or an "at cost" product, if you choose to grab a physical copy of one of his books at lulu.com). Heck, it would be impressive for a PAID product. Well laid out and organized, with art throughout.
It is his ability to create something new and innovative out of existing works that has led me to label him "the Tarantino of role-playing". He has a real talent for creating something that is at once fresh and familiar. However, unlike Tarantino, Blacky is careful to give credit to his sources.
I am going to list here, in somewhat chronological order, Blacky's games:Dark Dungeons (2010):
His first and most well known work A re-creation of Basic D&D. His penchant for tweaking things was apparent from the beginning. From rpggeek:
Darker Dungeons (2011):
A few months after the initial release, Blacky re-compiled the book, cleaning up a number of typos and errors, and changing the to-hit rules. He took out some 'plateaus' in the progression, and went from the THACO concept of early D&D to a 'Base Attack Bonus' akin to D&D 3rd Edition (though Armor Class still goes down). Each version can be told apart by the color of the title text on the front cover. The first version has a deep red color, while the second version has light orange titles. Further versions are planned to continue using different colors.
Sister game to Dark Dungeons, straying further from its inspiration with many changes.Science Fiction Double Feature (2011):
Variant "cinematic" rules for Call of Cthulhu, inspired by a somewhat obscure rpg called, It Came From The Late, Late, Late Show. The Characters are now "actors" in a B-movie, who have the option of calling in stunt doubles or storming off set.Blood, Guts & Glory (2012):
Started as a project called Darkest Dungeons, but seems to have morphed into something different. This game is a mashup of (primarily) Rolemaster 2e, various iterations of D&D, and some of the author's house rules. Features a built-in setting described as "post-apocalypric Elizabethan England".Codename: Spandex (2012):
A faithful recreation of Games Workshop's long lost cult classic Golden Heroes rpg. Blacky's two roleplaying loves seem to be fantasy and supers.3.Y (2014):
A 14-page series of rules tweaks for 3.x D&D. From rpggeek:
3.Y … bases itself on a "What if..." scenario. What if instead of embracing the new play-style the authors of the game rejected it and the new edition was a push back to the old play-style instead? 3.Y aims to be that imagined push-back. Rather than being presented as a whole game in itself, it is presented as a simple fourteen page set of changes to the rules of the game. Applying these rules modifications (and they have been extensively play-tested) will take your 3e game and give it the feel of earlier editions with a minimal amount of changes.
This is NOT the more well-known rpg from Magpie Games. It IS, however, a mashup of TSR's FASERIP system and ICONS (itself a descendant of FASERIP). Speaking of FASERIP...FASERIP (2015):
Blacky's neo-clone of the venerated FASERIP system. Has a few tweaks stemming from his houserules, but is completely back compatible with the original game, no modification required.Immortals Companion (2016):
Immortals rules from earlier editions of D&D, updated for 5e.
Blacky has a website, https://gurbintrollgames.wordpress.com/
, where many of his products are available for free download. I was also able to find some of them using the Wayback Machine to crawl his previous site, https://web.archive.org/web/*/http://ww ... index.html
I recently ordered a physical copy of one of his books at cost on lulu, and I was amazed at the quality of the product. Blacky seems to have a complete lack of profit motive. His works are a labor of love, and it shows. But his free games often look better than many for-profit products.
I don't know the guy, and I don't know much about him. But, he may very well be "the hardest working man in clone business". Let's give him a hand. I hope everyone who reads this thread is able to find something that they like, and can use.