Whitehack RPG Houserules

These are the houserules I am planning on using for my next Whitehack campaign, I thought I’d share them here so that other Whitehack GMs can see what I am up to. Some are tweaks which would work for most Whitehack games, others are intended specifically to match the power level and feel of the Tribe 8 setting.

Character Generation
When rolling stats, roll 2d6+3 and assign in order. You may then choose either to swap two values or re-roll the set.

Stat bonuses for Dex, Con, Wis, Int (and Str)
12-13 +1 (+1 AV)
14-15 +2 (+1 AV, +1 Dam)
16-17 +3 (+2 AV, +1 Dam)
18-19 +4 (+2 AV, +2 Dam)

I shortened the range on the stats to bring in the occasional very high or very low stat which can make some characters poorly balanced when it comes to task checks. Increasing the bonuses to match mean that characters still have much the same combat bonuses despite the narrowed range for skill checks.


AC+2 with no armour or leather armour.
AC+1 with chain or plate.
Can be broken to negate a single hit, requires a successful saving throw.

Dex bonus for AC*
If fighting with just a light weapon (knife, short sword, unarmed), add your Dex Bonus to AC.

Weapon damage*
Short Sword d6
Dagger/knife d6-1 (or d4)
Improvised d6-2 (or d3)
Unarmed d6-3 (or d2)

I like even small weapons to feel dangerous so I bumped all these small weapons back up to their usual level.

*These rules apply only to combat focused characters.

When a crit is rolled the player can choose one of the following:
– Max damage for this attack.
– Standard damage but gain advantage for next roll.
– Standard damage but opponent is disadvantaged for next roll.

When a successful double is rolled on a Positive double roll, choose two of the above.

When a double crit is rolled choose three.

Party Action Tests
When you need to know if any one of the party manages to achieve something:
Have just one player roll a single check using the highest stat in the party applying the most appropriate character’s Group.

When you need to know if all of the party manages to achieve something:
Have just one player roll a single check using the lowest stat in the party, again applying the most appropriate character’s Group.

The Deft

Multi-use Attunements
When a Deft gains the option of new Attunements they can instead choose to take one of their existing Attunements again. This would let them have that Attunement active twice and therefore utilise it twice in one session.

This allows the player to focus his character on the initial concept, rather than having the find new abilities (which isn’t always the most appropriate option for the character).

Deft Miracles
At levels 4, 7 and 10 Deft characters can choose to take one Miracle instead of two Attunement slots. The number of active slots doesn’t change, just now they are split between Attunements and Miracles.

Be careful with this one. Clever use of miracles and attunements could make these characters very powerful. In Tribe 8 I really need everyone to have some access to miracles, this is one of the methods I will be using. This is however not appropriate for all settings.

Non-combat Deft
Deft characters who do not get the combat focused vocation bonus to attack rolls, instead their first use of attunements each session does not expend that attunement.

A pretty powerful ability, but then so is Advantage on either attack or damage rolls.

Damage & Recovery

Simple HP Recovery
Recover half of all lost HP (rounded down) with a meal and a night’s rest. If no further HP loss is received before 2nd night’s rest, full HP are restored. Wise characters restore full HP with a single night’s rest.

This worked well throughout my last campaign, it scales HP recovery to each character’s total HP without much bother, however I was never quite happy with the fact that Wise effectively recover from all damage with a bit of sleep.

Detailed Damage System

This is quite a lot more in-depth, but I wanted something more dynamic for my next campaign with a tactical, resource management side to it. It also scales with level better and allows Wise characters to receive healing without affecting their Miracle abilities.

Level 1 HPs
Deft and Fortunate level one characters have 1D+1 HP, not just 1D.

Fatigue for Miracles
Instead of losing HP to pay for Miracles, Wise characters instead gain Fatigue. If a character’s Fatigue is ever equal to or greater than their current HP, they immediately fall unconscious.
Wise now recover HP at the same rate as other characters, but they also recover the same amount of Fatigue. Magical healing can work on Wise characters under these rules, but only to recover lost HP, not to remove fatigue.

When a character takes a hit which would take them below 0HP, the player still has to pass a death saving throw (either Con or ST) but don’t reduce the character’s HPs. If the character survives the roll, they gain a wound. For each wound, characters must reduce their stats, AV, ST and AC by 1, until the wound(s) heal.

All characters have a recovery dice to roll during healing opportunities which determines how many HP they recover. The size of this dice is determined by their total HD (not their level):

HD: Recovery Dice
1: 1pt
2: d6-3
3: d6-2
4: d6-1
5-6: d6
7-8: d6+1
9-10: d6+2

Healing opportunities:
– At the end of each combat any character who received damage who is then the recipient of a successful healing test can roll a recovery dice to heal some HPs. Strong and Brave characters don’t need the healing check, they can go straight to rolling their recovery dice.
– Once per day all characters can take a rest of about one hour to recover one recovery dice worth of HP. Wise characters can also remove one recovery dice of Fatigue.
– With dinner, a meal and breakfast each character can recover one recovery dice of HP, one dice of Fatigue and have a one in six chance of healing one wound (if they have any).
– A draft of healing potion or a basic healing spell allow their recipients to recover one dice of HP and again a one in six chance of healing a wound.

After combat: Recover HP with healing or if Strong/Brave.
Daily rest (1 hour): Recover HP and Fatigue.
Meals and sleep (8 hours total): Recover HP, Fatigue and 1/6 one wound.
Magic: Recover HP and 1/6 one wound.


7 thoughts on “Whitehack RPG Houserules

  1. One or two things:
    – To match the stat bonuses, are there any stat penalties?
    – Average stat is now 10, not 10.5, which will make people a wee bit less competent on average.
    – Also, if people tend to prefer using stats they’re good at, they’re going to be less effective on average. This can be balanced by encouraging players to also roll on bad stats.
    – Why are shields less effective when you’re wearing armour?
    – Group tests: have you seen the variant where instead of all players rolling and the scrawny mage out strengths the barbarian, the GM rolls a difficulty and anyone with a high enough stat passes?
    – Fatigue for casters: good idea, and shouldn’t be much more book keeping. Maybe give it a magicky sounding name though, like “accumulating mana burn” (or something), to stop players feeling like they can’t get over fatigue with a rest (or maybe they can!)
    – Multi-use attunements. Pro: handy for those of us who don’t have a good idea for where the character should be going. Con: this does sacrifice character flexibility, since a character wakes up having one fewer way to approach a situation.

    1. Whitehack doesn’t use stat penalties, I’m ok with that.

      I am also ok with characters being slightly less competent at the start. It means players have to plan more and work with their strengths and their Groups.

      Armour is going to be hard to come by so i wanted to boost shields a little too give you a chance, but i didn’t want to over power heavy armour+shields. I justify it as using a shield well requires mobility.

      Remember that miracles in Whitehack can be anything so there are dozens of different ways that they can wear down a character. Mana burn, blood letting, exhaustion, disconnection, grief… I thought Fatigue worked best as a generic term.

  2. Hey Brian, sorry to leave a comment so late, but re: Armor, waysoftheearth over on the Delving Deeper forums is using this houserule (to prioritize shields a bit). You may be interested:

    Padded, mail, and plate armour are AC 7, 6 and 5, respectively.
    Helmet improves AC by 1 but halves listening chances.
    Shields improve AC by 2 but only from the front (negated when struck from behind).

    Converted to Whitehack, that might be:

    Leather, mail, plate are AC 2, 3, 4 respectively.
    Helmet gives +1 AC but gives disadvantage on task rolls to perceive.
    Shields give +2 AC but only from front.

    Link: http://forum.immersiveink.com/viewtopic.php?f=29&t=585

  3. Hey Brian, sorry for a very late comment. I’m planning to run Deep Carbon Observatory using Whitehack and your houserules. I wonder when you add stat bonuses for Dex, Con, Wis, Int (and Str). You’ve written bonus to AV and dmg in your houserules but I can’t find if a similar bonus is added in RAW, exept for Strong characters. Could you please comment on this?

    Futher, I wonder if you have any advice regarding preparation and running DCO with Whitehack. I’ve read the summaries of your game on google+, but as far as I can recall you said that you would post some advice for running this adventure later. Thx.

    1. Yes, I am referring to the bonuses received by the Strong class there. Basically, I’m giving out all the same bonuses, they just trigger a bit sooner.

      As I remember it, the advice I was going to give was (spoilers)
      – The NPC with the telescope in Carrowmere is looking at some smoke in the distance. I thought that was the family near the dam burning stuff to stay alive but I realised later that it should probably be the reflectors boiling away the water over the pit. This is much cooler but it’s a big enough effect that is probably the first thing your pcs will see.

      – Use the Crows carefully, they are awesome and dangerous but you don’t want your players to kill them too soon. Handily they are thinking the same thing so they should always have an escape plan ready.

      – Notice that all the rooms in the DCO are only 10′ wide, it helps understand the structure. Some of the maps floating around didn’t pick up on that and I don’t think they work because of it. There was a good map recently, I’ll try to find it.

      – My players started at level 3, that was a bit low I think, despite the fact that I was pretty generous with XP. Level 5 should still be a challenge.

      – I used random encounters (1/6 for each stint of travel or treat somewhere non-safe) and Basic 2d6 reaction rolls for anything which didn’t already have an obvious encounter or reaction. It worked really well, really made the place feel alive and dangerous.

      – Put some thought into how you want to use the witch, she’s amazing.

      – Don’t hold back, is the players responsibility to keep their pcs alive, not yours. 🙂

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