Sunday, November 17, 2013

Hackmaster Trial II: A Review

Last night I had the great pleasure of trying out the Hackmaster system. The event was a first level adventure to introduce the system. So that you better understand my perspective, my character was a first level mage, the adventure was a typical dungeon delve into a sewer filled with feces and rats. My character was very much useless once his few spells ran out, however I still had a lot of fun watching the adventure unfold. Overall it was a good introduction to the system and I understand better how it works.
     Hackmaster features the many stereotypical classes found in fantasy role playing. The system blends a few concepts from other systems: skills are percentile based, with basic skills covering the basics of adventuring, and advanced skills being class based or specific to the character, stats are very similar to the typical D&D build, and as mentioned before the classes are very unoriginal. Hackmaster to me shined in 3 categories: magic, combat, and penetration.
     Magic in hackmaster comes in two forms, divine and arcane. Arcane magic is really where I was impressed. Rather than a simple memorization of spells per level, the character has spell points, given per level that he is able to use each day. Each spell has a base cost in spell points, and can then be enhanced or amplified by using up additional spell points. This allows magic wielders a lot more versatility than other systems.
     Combat in Hackmaster works in terms of seconds, you reaction speed is calculated based on weapon speed and your character's initiative. The GM counts up starting at 1 second, as soon as your first initiative comes up you can begin moving, or attack an adjacent enemy. The weapon speed decides how often you can strike, however as a wizard my initiative was disgustingly slow. Attacking is a d20 roll + modifiers, which is a much simpler lower number than other systems, and the opponent gets a defense roll which is typically a d20-4. Armor actually makes you easier to hit in this game however it offers damage reduction.
     The final category, penetration effects many of the different rolls. Whenever something penetrates, denoted by a "p" in the descriptor(I.E. 2d4p) it continues in effect when the maximum result is rolled on a die. (I.E. with 2d4p whenever a 4 turns up, you roll another d4 and add to the result.) This feature makes the system significantly more lethal. As a weakling wizard, I could still do a significant amount of damage with my dagger since it has a 1 in 4 chance of doing extra damage.
     Overall the system was good. It had a very different feel from the normal adventures I have, reminding me much more of the glory days of 2nd edition than anything. The system plays heavily towards advanced role players, as there is a lot of special and circumstantial rules to master, however nearly everything you can want to be done can be done and is covered by rules. Thank you again Brett for introducing We Hate Bards to the system, I look forward to seeing a lot more action!

-Matthew Neymeiyer

1 comment:

  1. It totally reminds me of the glory days of 1st and 2nd edition. I think the ways the creators took the system improved upon the "flaws" of the original AD&D. Also our party got really lucky with our rolls, there were a couple of times when I thought we were going to bite it hard. Overall lots of fun.