Andy K dropped me a note on Dinner & RPGs to ask me a couple questions about the hack. Here's his questions, edited down to the bone.
1) How much from Red Box do we really use?
The core elements I took from Red Box are:
> Seven classes, 4 human & three not-human.
> Treasure = advancement. There's nothing to spend 100gp on in RB. But 100gp=100xp.
> A finite number of levels. In RB there are only 3 levels. If you were 13 and couldn't afford the next boxed set you could either make up the new levels or start a new character. I dug the idea of starting a new character when you hit the upper limit.
All of which doesn't add up to much. I'll cop to the fact that it's probably not so much of a hack as it is just inspired by the old red box.
2) I think that Mystic is really outclassed, even with Animal Companion and the "Move all over" ability. Perhaps make the animal companion stronger, or +1 stat per level?
I can do that. I think all the classes' abilities need just a little bit of tuning. Also, Mark's looking at possibly re-writing all the classes. Not sure exactly what he's got in mind, but I think it includes making the 7 classes hold together a bit better.
3) Hmmm, it may be because I'm being too old and peaceful, but while I love games with action and violence, most of the violence is against non-humans or the like. I'm wondering if one could say, "I totally want to subdue these guys (this guy) in combat!" That is, you use your weapons to "defeat" them, but at the last minute let them go and they change their ways.
I can see how you could just make a Charisma attribute roll-off to make them give up their lives of evil, but as an old hippie I kind of want the ability to take them on in bloody combat... and then perhaps "make them see the errors of their ways" with that last hitpoint being removed, rather than stabbing them brutally to death. Incommensurable?
Shortly before we actually playtested this thing, that's exactly how the system worked. You'd set stakes before getting into combat. The paragraph at the beginning of the combat section titled "What are we fighting about?" originally had guidelines for setting those stakes.
But then some switch in my brain flipped over, and it occurred to me that this was redundant with the non-combat system. I want combat to be strong, violent, bloody, and with a much different meaning than the non-combat system. I suspect that there's something else that I'm imagining about the relationship between the combat and non-combat system that I'm not expressing properly (or at all) yet.
Lemmie ponder on that one for a while. I think there's a really good reason why the combat system has to be for killing, and nothing else, but I can't seem to articulate it yet.
I'm really liking what I see.