Archive for November, 2009

Playing D&D 4e this week

November 27, 2009 Leave a comment

On monday we continued our 4e D&D campaign. The Dungeon Master managed to have a QPK or Quarter Party Kill and almost an HPK too 😉 Usually the PC deaths have been averted so far with my cleric’s powerful 2nd level utility spell which triggers when an ally fails a death save and grants him a healing surge. This time however a fenhydra got all four attacks through our Dragonborn paladin and rended him into shish kebab on the second turn of the combat! The rest of the battle was rather demanding with only three of us left and a dozen minions (elven archers mostly) and their commanders fighting us besides the hydra.

It still seems very safe rule system for the characters statistically. With wise use of healing surges the players can be quite assured they’ll survive even the most difficult encounters. Then comes some statistic anomaly of Hydra and strikes four hits to one character and reduces his HPs down to the immediate death. Is that the only way to create danger of death in 4e? I can’t help but compare this with Hackmaster Basic system (and several others similar systems) where each creature (well at least most of them) have some certain value of damage that can knock the character out without having to grind him down to 0 HP or lower. That also ensures that almost each attack can be lethal if the opponent could coup de grâce his helpless adversary. Please bring the danger back into 4e!


Categories: D&D, D&D 4e, RPG

Mastering the Hack, Skills, Talents and Proficiencies

November 23, 2009 Leave a comment

Time to move on with character building. We are getting close to the final steps and it is time to spend those Building points on skills, talents and proficiencies. Read more…

Categories: Hackmaster, RPG, Rules

Mastering the hack, Honor

November 20, 2009 Leave a comment

Hobgoblins of Tellene are very honorable creatures. Art used by permission of KenzerCo. Copyright KenzerCo

Honor is a special attribute in Hackmaster Basic rules. It is a measure of the character’s success in his deeds and adventures. It doesn’t reflect if character is morally good or evil. As an example, knights have usually a strict code of honor to follow. Obviously the hobgoblin in the picture is honor bound not to fight an unarmed opponent… Alignment of the character is also important when deciding what is good for character’s personal honor.

Starting honor score is an average of the character’s other abilities. Thus my elf starts with an honor of 12 but his high looks and charisma raise it up to 15. That means he has an average honor for 1st level character. In game mechanics that also means he can add +1 to any one roll per game session. Very low honor (Dishonorable status) causes -1 to every roll and very high honor gives also a single reroll for any die roll during the session. If the honor score drops below zero the characters alignment changes based on his behavior and he also loses some experience.

Honor points can be used during the game to receive rerolls or altering the result of a single die roll. That is something valuable for new players to remember. When hovering at death’s door in the middle of a fight you can always choose death before dishonor or then burn some honor points to alter that damage your enemy just rolled against you. Or vice versa use some dishonorable trick to deal spades of damage against the enemies too.

Honor is gained (and lost) by adhering to character’s alignment and class, defending personal honor and role-playing. Each of these four aspects can alter honor from -3 to +4. So in the very best case a character could receive +16 points of honor after a session! But that is very unlikely.

Let’s say a knight has wow to serve his liege in every way and the liege commands the knight to burn down some village just beyond the border to teach a lesson to that robber baron next to his lands. The knight is however good and compassionate by his heart and refuses to do such a thing. Disobeying his code of honor would easily cost some honor for the knight but in his good heart he knows, killing unarmed and innocent people would be wrong. He might be reprimanded or even punished by his liege and might have a good chance to defend his personal honor during the process and role-playing some of his quirks and flaws on the way also. Then it is up to the DM to judge the situation and how all of it will change the knight’s honor.

I think this mechanic resembles a great deal of gaining and using Artha in the Burning Wheel system. Artha works quite similarly by granting die roll modifiers or rerolls and it is gained by good role-playing and achieving some personal goals of the character. In Burning Wheel, the Artha system is also the very centerpiece or reward mechanism and allows players to make tests that are required to advance their skills or abilities. Hackmaster manages to add this mechanism nicely to the classic old school gaming with honor attribute. Experience points are gained from overcoming enemies and obstacles as well as reaching some points of storyline but good roleplaying is instead awarded by dishing out honor points.


Mastering the Hack, quirks and flaws

November 20, 2009 Leave a comment

I decided to postpone fleshing out the character background until I know the rest of his attributes. Even the very next step will certainly give more tools for detailing the background. Each character is required to have one quirk and one flaw. They are both meant to be more descriptive role-playing elements than actually debilitating features of the characters. Read more…

Categories: Hackmaster, RPG, Rules

Mastering the Hack, Character ‘hackground’

November 18, 2009 Leave a comment

Back to fleshing out my first Hackmaster Basic character. Character background is optional chapter in the rules but unless you have a very clear character concept in mind it is very useful. Read more…

Categories: Hackmaster, RPG

RPG night of week 47/2009

November 17, 2009 Leave a comment

Yesterday night we continued our 4e D&D campaign. It is the campaign we started originally with Mentzer Red Box D&D, in legendary Grand Duchy of Karameikos. After some low-level casualties we had a group of characters about around levels 3 to 5. At that point some magical maelstrom rushed over the world and our characters were brought to the world of Argarak – a homebrewn campaign setting of our DM running this particular campaign. Characters were also converted to the latest edition of D&D. Read more…

Categories: D&D, D&D 4e, RPG

Mastering the Hack, part 4

November 16, 2009 Leave a comment

Alignment has been a source of debate for years. (Campaign Mastery has an interesting series of posts going on, analyzing different aspects of alignment.) Hackmaster uses the traditional two axis scale of Law vs. Chaos and Good vs. Evil and Neutral in the middle of both axis.  Read more…

Categories: Hackmaster, RPG, Rules