Hack and Slash

When you attack an enemy in melee, roll+Str. ✴On a 10+, you deal your damage to the enemy and avoid their attack. At your option, you may choose to do +1d6 damage but expose yourself to the enemy’s attack. ✴On a 7–9, you deal your damage to the enemy and the enemy makes an attack against you.

Hack and slash is for attacking a prepared enemy plain and simple. If the enemy isn’t prepared for your attack—if they don’t know you’re there or they’re restrained and helpless—then that’s not hack and slash. You just deal your damage or murder them outright, depending on the situation. Nasty stuff.

The enemy’s counterattack can be any GM move made directly with that creature. A goblin might just attack you back, or they might jam a poisoned needle into your veins. Life’s tough, isn’t it?

Note that an “attack” is some action that a player undertakes that has a chance of causing physical harm to someone else. Attacking a dragon with inch-thick metal scales full of magical energy using a typical sword is like swinging a meat cleaver at a tank: it just isn’t going to cause any harm, so hack and slash doesn’t apply. Note that circumstances can change that: if you’re in a position to stab the dragon on its soft underbelly (good luck with getting there) it could hurt, so it’s an attack.

If the action that triggers the move could reasonably hurt multiple targets roll once and apply damage to each target (they each get their armor).

Some attacks may have additional effects depending on the triggering action, the circumstances, or the weapons involved. An attack could also knock someone down, restrain them, or leave a big bloody splatter.

GM: Jarl, you’re up to your not-inconsiderable belly in slavering goblins. They have you surrounded, knives bared. What do you do?

Jarl: I’ve had enough of this! I wallop the closest goblin with my hammer.

GM: Okay, then. This is definitely combat, you’re using hack and slash. Roll+Str.

Jarl: I got an 11. It says here that I have a choice. Fear is for the weak, let those goblins come!

GM: You smash your hammer into the nearest goblin and are rewarded by the satisfying sound of the crunching of his bones. That and a knife wound as the goblin counterattacks. He deals 4 damage to you. What do you do?

GM: Cadeus, from the shadows, you’ve got the drop on those orc warriors.

Cadeus: I leap out and bring my sword down in a sweeping arc! Like this! Yeeeah!

GM: Well, they weren’t expecting that, they’re caught totally off guard and you slice into one. Roll damage.

Cadeus: I deal 6 damage.

GM: The orc collapses in a bloody heap! The second orc freezes and then he’s grinning at you with that horrible tusked mouth, raising his signal horn from his belt! What do you do?

GM: Bartleby, you’ve got Finbar the Magnificent, mightiest duelist in the land, completely disarmed and at sword point.

Bartleby: I won’t let you betray me again, Finbar! I run him through.

GM: Well, okay, that’s a hack and slash, roll+Str.

Bartleby: If you say so I got a 7.

GM: Okay, you run him through because he can’t even defend himself and umm, wait. You know what, he’s not in melee with you at all. He’s helpless, forget hack and slash, he’s toast. He slumps to the ground, coughing up blood but the sound of the guard alarm rings out. What do you do?