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The Retro Hack is an ashcan and currently in development. This means that The Retro Hack will be receiving updates as I receive feedback, including further content. If I receive sufficient funds, I will source art and lay out the text properly. :)

The Retro Hack is about recreating the sensibility of the old games, without recreating their mechanics.

The Retro Hack is about your first dungeon delve, and recreating a sense of wonder. It’s also designed for one-shots.

The Retro Hack is not about playing fair, or balance.

I hope you have fun.

What is The Retro Hack?

A new take on a very old genre, drawing from everything old and new and in between, The Retro Hack is for people who want a fresh spin on the OSR. It brings together ideas about shared narrative control, resource management, and creative problem solving into a big, lumpy, semi-formed mess.

For more information on how and why I made The Retro Hack, click here.

What does it include?

  • 15 page A5 sized booklet + 2 page character sheet
  • A fast system designed for loose, creative play and one-shots
  • Rules for how to influence the game world as a player in a controlled fashion (skills)
  • Rules for Potential (shared resource management), resolution, combat, injury, and character goals
  • Guidelines for converting OSR monsters
  • Optional character-focused advancement, treasure, and collaborative worldbuilding

What other games does the Retro Hack draw from?

  • Donjon by Clinton R. Nixon
  • Blades in the Dark by John Harper
  • The Indie Hack by Stade Stolar and Herror
  • Mörk Borg by Pelle Nilsson and Johan Nohr
  • Into the Odd by Chris McDowall
  • 24XX by Jason Tocci
  • Eldritch Ass-Kicking by Nathan J. Hill
StatusIn development
CategoryPhysical game
Rated 5.0 out of 5 stars
(4 total ratings)
GenreAdventure, Role Playing


Get this game and 6 more for $10.00 USD
View bundle
Buy Now
On Sale!
50% Off
$4.00 $2.00 USD or more

In order to download this game you must purchase it at or above the minimum price of $2 USD. You will get access to the following files:

The Retro Hack v1.1.pdf 141 kB

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Community Copies

Feel free to get one if you are in financial distress! I ask only that you tell me what you think of the game :)

Development log


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Potential is very neat.


REVIEW: Well worth your time

Do you remember those games you’d play as a kid, where each player would invent increasingly influential situations to browbeat the other? Well, The Retro Hack has that feel, and leaves the imagination arms race in the past.

Nakade sets out to provide an experience like the first time you played a dungeon crawler, just without trying to reuse those actual mechanics. I think they succeed in this goal.

The Retro Hack gives a nice disaggregation of narrative control, keyed to an important resource, which lets players opt in to when they want to take the reins without automatically defaulting to it the way PbtA games work, per se. I am a particular fan of the difference between the active skills and the passive traits, which invites the GM to ask lore questions of the specific players.

Fantastic one-shot fodder, and essential reading for anyone trying to design post-fact quantum equipment systems.

Disclosure: I was offered a review copy in trade for an unbiased review. I would happily buy extra copies for friends.

What a wonderful and thoughtful review! Gives a great idea of the experience the game offers.


Thanks Luke :)


Really looking forward to testing this out on game night!


Thanks! I've tried it out a few times and it's been pretty fun so far!