Announcing Don’t Hack This Game!

Fred Hicks and I have worked together on a few mad ideas, but the one we’re going to talk about today may be the maddest of them all! One of Evil Hat’s earliest games, Don’t Rest Your Head, has been out for five years now, and people have been doing all sorts of crazy hacks with it in that time. With its simple engine of exhaustion & madness, it’s inspired a lot of you awesome folks to do crazy-awesome things with it.

That’s the book we want to make, the next chapter in the Don’t Rest Your Head line: Don’t Hack This Game. And because you inspired it, we want you to be a part of it.

Articles We’re Looking For

We are looking for articles on hacking Don’t Rest Your Head’s system (exhaustion, madness, dice pools, responses, questionnaire, etc.), existing setting, new settings & rules supporting them, GM tricks, and so on. Articles may not be based on other intellectual property (so we can’t take your Shadowrun hack, but we could a generic or original cyberpunk-with-magic one).

Each article should be 1000-2000 words long.

Please read Fred’s post about hacking the dice pools in DRYH, as that’ll help understand where we see the handles in the game:

(You’re free to post comments if you disagree, by the way! We welcome conversation.)

You may also want to grab the free DRYH adventure, The Bad Man. It contains revised rules (in condensed form) for the game, notably the PvP & helping rules:

Pitching Us Ideas & Deadlines

If you have an article idea, send Ryan Macklin (macklin@evilhat.com) the following information:

  1. Topic or subject of the article, summarized in 200 words or less
  2. Expected length of article (i.e. a ballpark between 1000 and 2000 words)
  3. Full name and contact information (e-mail address, etc).
  4. A brief background of past game or hobby writing experience or publications, if any

You may submit up to five proposals, although in most cases only one proposal will be accepted. Multiple proposals may be submitted in a single e-mail; in this case, contact info and background info only need to be included once. Submit your proposals in the body of the email, not as an attachment.

The deadline for proposals is Wednesday, January 4th, 2012. If your proposal is accepted, you will be notified within 7 days after the close of the open call window. Once you know if your proposal is accepted, you will have until Wednesday, February 8th, 2012 to submit your completed draft.

(Edit: as we’ve extended the pitch window for some pitches, our schedule will be shifting around. If we have a later due date, you’ll be informed when you receive our greenlight.)

We’ll turn that around within four weeks, and if there’s anything we need to have you revise, you’ll get notes from us with expectation of four weeks to turn it around.

Compensation, etc.

Compensation for articles is 5 cents per word, 50% upon acceptance of your completed draft & 50% upon publication. You will also receive a copy of the final product and, of course, credit for your article.

If your article is accepted for publication, you’ll be licensing it to Evil Hat Productions for publication. That means you’ll own your work, but Evil Hat gets to publish it in Don’t Hack This Game first.

After six months, you may publish your article on your blog or wherever, so long as it’s non-commercial (otherwise, you’re using Evil Hat’s IP, Don’t Rest Your Head, without authorization). Naturally, you can contact us about this if that’s an issue.

What “acceptance” means: Your article is not considered accepted until we receive your draft and you have made any revisions we call for. Once we receive that and do a final review, we’ll let you know if it’s accepted and give you a contract for the work.

We are still currently evaluating our publishing options for this product, whether this will be electronic-only or electronic & print.

For More Information

If you have a question, you can either comment on this blog post, or you can email the anthology’s editor, Ryan Macklin, at macklin@evilhat.com.

All queries/pitches will be via email if you wish for a response. If you do it over Twitter or Facebook or whatever, Ryan will roll his eyes at yet another writer who can’t follow directions, and ignore it. :)

– Ryan


20 Responses to Announcing Don’t Hack This Game!

  1. Fred Hicks says:

    Excited Fred is Excited.

  2. Jess says:

    It’s moments like this that make me love indie publishing. Whereas many developers and publishers would balk at the derivations of their game setting/ system/thematics/etc., you’ve gone and embraced it in a positive way that furthers not only the original game, but also the idea that people playing the game own it and can (and should) do it with it as they please. This latter happens unfortunately few and far between. Thank you.

  3. Micheal Garcia says:

    Since I have two hacks in the works already, I say: Challenge Accepted.

  4. Eoin Boyle says:

    My mechanics poking came out about 500 words too short for the short end, so I’m just tossing it out: http://wp.me/p22zOP-Q – you guys want it for the wiki?

    Abstract: use tarot cards to play, where each suit maps to a quality. The suit that takes the most tricks on the winning side is what dominates. Coins manipulate the hands in play in addition to the usual uses.

    • Ryan Macklin says:


      We’re not talking about a wiki, but a product.

      If folks want to post to a wiki or their blog, that’s totally cool. But that also means it’s already been published, and is outside the scope of what we’re talking about.

      And note: if you put something up, please don’t call it “a submission”. It gives other people the wrong idea to do the same thing, and then their entries are also nulled. :/

      – Ryan

  5. Przmek "Fred" Bednarski says:

    [quote]Fred Hicks says:
    December 19, 2011 at 14:51
    Excited Fred is Excited. [/quote]


    I just stumbled upon the blog around 20minutes ago. Perfect timing, as I have a rough draft of a hack I wanted to make long time ago and now I have enough free time to write it up with the new working pattern.
    Expect an email from me, sir in near future.

  6. Ash says:

    I’m tempted, but 2k words… Probably way too short for me, especially for fluff.


    • Fred Hicks says:

      The requirements won’t fit everyone. For my taste, over 2k words of “fluff” would be too much fluff, so the project’s right-sized for Evil Hat.

  7. Still mulling over whether to submit something (and what it would be), but color me excited and intrigued regardless.

  8. Michael Garcia says:

    I wanted to adapt one of the games I ran as an advensure but I crashed hard into that 2000 word qouta. I think I will instead work on an alternative. Is anyone thinking of doing a Changling style hack? I have one in the works already and may go with that instead.

    • Ash says:

      I’m not, but I think it’s a great idea so long as its not too similar to changeling.


    • Jim Ryan says:

      It would be terrifyingly easy to do a Changeling hack for this game. Unfortunately one wouldn’t be able to submit it as an article (given the whole licensed property thingy) but maybe something not that specific but still fairy-based could be cool.

      Speaking of WoD, I should also mention that for the last couple of years, I’ve been telling folks, “If you want to play a game about being a cool, supernatural badass, play Vampire. If you want to play a storytelling game of personal horror, play Don’t Rest Your Head.” ;)

      (No offense intended to the Vampire fans, by the way. I play it quite a bit myself and enjoy being a supernatural badass just as much as the next guy.)

  9. First off, Fred’s post is extremely helpful in all this.

    I don’t know if this will help anyone else, but I thought I should share. As I was thinking through my hack, it occurred to me that part of the hack should involve two types of “end” for the characters, one lower risk and one higher risk.

    Exhaustion can lead to falling asleep, which is dangerous for the character. Madness can lead to becoming a nightmare, which is insta-death for the character.

    Two pools leading to two different severe consequences.

    Another angle to view the rules from. Hopefully it’ll help someone.

  10. Troy says:

    Probably not submitting anything, but boy am I excited to see (and buy) the result!! Great idea for a product. Here’s wishing you lots of success and a butt-load of quality submissions. (BTW, having just written a short chapter for a professional monograph at 2,000 words, it’s more than you might think and certainly enough to encapsulate a detailed idea for a hack.)

  11. Mike Olson says:

    “I had something for this…” –Sterling Archer

    Actually, I don’t, but I wish I did. I love DRYH, especially the mechanics, but I haven’t played enough of it (and certainly not lately) to have a hack in mind. Which is a shame, because it’s totally the kind of game I’d be all into hacking. I’ll enjoy reading DHTG, though.

  12. Jim Ryan says:

    I would *love* to sink my teeth into something like this, but to be honest I’ve only had a chance to play this game once. Granted, I was GMing it at the time (it was a one-shot), but I don’t know if I’d feel right trying to put forth hacks for the game that are still untested. In the one game I GMed I only really did one thing different, and it worked pretty well but I don’t know that it’d fill 1000 words unless I included an AP report or general advice on getting the game done in one sitting or something along those lines.

  13. Jason Pitre says:

    I just wanted to say in the comments that I was very happy to submit a proposal for DHTG and I am eager to see if anything comes of it.

    Come on folks, I recommend you submit your own proposals. The more the merrier.

  14. Seth Blevins says:

    Oooh! This would a great chance to share my Star Wars hack….although for copyright reasons I will likely need to come up with a different setting.