Home > Hackmaster, RPG > Mastering the Hack, Part 1

Mastering the Hack, Part 1

I’m going to explore the Hackmaster Basic system in a series of upcoming posts. I am fond of the campaign setting “Kingdoms of Kalamar” from my earlier D&D 3.5 campaign there. I have also read and subscribed Knights of the Dinner Table for a long time so I am somewhat familiar with Hackmaster but have not played it before. But now I feel it is a good time explore it more thoroughly as our gaming group blew the dust from the D&D Basic set lately too! The game itself has strong roots in the Dungeons and Dragons tradition with the six basic abilities (Strength, Intelligence, Wisdom, Dexterity, Constitution and Charisma) plus Looks as the 7th ability. Characters belong to one of four classic class: Fighter, Thief, Mage or Cleric. Characters advance by levels as they earn experience from their adventurers. Very familiar stuff to the most of RPG players with at least some experience of the art before.

The Hackmaster Basic book begins with a very compact quick start rules for character creation but I will skip that part of the book for now and return to it later. I want to create my first new character with all the details available.

The character creation is based largely on spending building points. Even the character class has to be bought with those points. Every new character has 50 points to spend at start. Then the next step already is to determine character’s basic ability scores with very traditional 3d6 method. Each score gets also a fractional part above the integer that is determined by percentile roll. All the abilities are rolled in order with no swapping their places at this point. So let’s get some dice rolling!

Strength     11/12
Intelligence  9/50
Wisdom        9/02
Dexterity    15/14
Constitution 16/60
Looks        13/30
Charisma      8/86

Well… The character looks like a healthy gymnastic athlete but not smart above average. Now, if I keep the stats in this order I get 50 BP bonus. If I swap two of them the bonus is 25 BPs. I get no bonus at all if I arrange them in any order I want to. In my opinion it would be more clear to give every character those 100 BPs at the start instead of 50. Then you should just pay either 25 BPs or 50 BPs if you want to swap two scores or all of them. The outcome is the same anyway so this is just a point of view.

All the skills are also purchased with BPs so I decide to keep the scores in the order I rolled them. The character could become rather good Thief with 15 Dex. I’m also surprised there is no score under 8. Let’s see What kind of things my character can do with these abilities.

Strength 11/12 gives him no modifiers for damage with melee attack. It doesn’t qualify for bonuses for Feat of Strength either. So Getting through locked doors must be done with tools of trade instead of muscles. He can lift 205 lbs., carry 48 lbs. and drag 513 lbs. of treasure (or other heavy stuff). Looks like the he will specialize in acquiring diamonds and jewelry instead of copper ore.

Intelligence 9/50 means -1 attack modifier and no BP bonus. That sucks a little since the attack rolls are modified by both Intelligence and Dexterity. Dexterity however will compensate that -1 a little bit.

Wisdom 9/02 yields +3 Initiative modifier so he is not too wise to avoid every ambush. This will be again compensated by dexterity a little. Higher wisdom could also give some BP bonus but not this score. This is however low enough to give -1 defense modifier.

Dexterity 15/14 finally even out those negative modifiers gained so far. It gives -1 Initiative modifier, +2 Attack modifier and +3 Defense modifier. Totalling things up so far result in Attack modifier +1, Defense modifier +2 and initiative modifier +2.

Constitution 16/60 gives 16 Hit Points to start the character with. Later the choice of race (more specifically the size of character) adds some HPs and on top of that the class chosen gives one die roll of HPs as icing on the cake.

Looks 13/30 makes the character slightly more charismatic with one time bonus of +1 to the charisma score. It also qualifies for +1 bonus for starting Honor.

Charisma 8/86 is changed to 9/86 due to his good looks. It doesn’t affect much though as there is no BP bonus it does not yet negate -1 starting modifier to Honor score. If the character would be cleric he would have also -1 modifier to Turn or Command undead attempts.

Conclusions: The abilities affect a whole lot of things and some of them even interact with others. Many things are also affected by more than one ability score so for example a slow and dumb but strong brute might not make the best fighter around the woods. He would have trouble to hit that venerable oak standing in the market square, without heavy specialization with his weapon of choice. So there are no ‘dump stats’ so often seen these days…

That’s all about the step of creating ability scores for Hackmaster characters. In the next post I’ll get to choose my new character’s race.

-F-

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