Character Creation

posted by hyphz Original SA post

Alright. So, what the heck. Semester is over. I can maybe handle another one of these.

HackMaster .

Sometimes you just.. kinda want a Fantasy Heartbreaker. Maybe it's boredom, maybe it's masochism, maybe it's that the latest official D&D was meh at best and your group have already comprehensively broken 4e and Pathfinder. But, I went on the search for alternatives and found this, and hey, it might at least be interesting.

HackMaster is best known as being "that game they play in the Knights of the Dinner Table comic". Initially it was nothing more than a way of avoiding using any D&D trademarks in the strip; no real sign of any unique rules came up. Even after the game's release, the KoDT continued playing without any reference to the actual rules that had now been printed for the game they were supposedly playing, although I think there was some handwaved excuse for this.

There's also an issue with the fact that there are actually two versions of HackMaster, although they aren't obviously distinguished by cover or.. well, by anything really apart from which section they're in on PDF stores. There's Hackmaster Fourth Edition which is actually a reprint of 1st Edition D&D, complete with all the cruft like stat-based class entry requirements, racial maximum class levels, source-based saving throws, etc. with a bunch of extra "parody" rules added to it and a truly ridiculous number of monsters, all of which came in supplements. In spite of that, some people did play it, and I'm told this may have caused a problem because the license they got to reprint 1st Ed D&D was conditioned upon the book being a parody.

Then there's the one I'm looking at. Also known as New HackMaster , it's actually a complete system in its own right, rolling in some design principles from more modern games. That said, it still pulls rank on "parody" several times, most notably with the text containing lengthy grognard rants from the pseudo-author ("Gary Jackson") about how bad other games are or how "entitled" players who play other systems are. So, like the first game, it does have a bit of a problem with its defenders deflecting any criticism as "well, of course it has (bad feature), it's a joke about how games have (bad feature), isn't it?". Fortunately, that's happened a lot less with New HackMaster than the previous one. And even more notably, the GameMaster's Guide for HackMaster (which was the last book to be released) rather disarmed me by actually including a fairly thoughtful discussion in the forums of the differences between this game and D&D/Pathfinder, and the design reasoning behind some of the changes.

So, let's do what the book does and get right into it with character creation . It's a step by step process, and the book provides flowcharts for it.. and flowcharts for the subsections of it.. um, yes.

1. You get 90 build points. (Actually the book says you get 40, but you can treat it as if you get 90 for reasons we'll see below).

2. You write down the standard D&D six-stat block: Str, Dex, Con, Int, Wis, Cha, and then add a seventh called "Looks" which is actually the old Comeliness stat from one of the 1e supplements. Then you roll 3d6 on each of them, in order. Ayup.

3. If you didn't get at least a 13 on one stat, or had 5 or less on two or more, then you have the option of having your character leave to become a shopkeeper and rerolling everything.

4. Now, you roll a d100 for the percentile/fractional component of each stat. Older folks may remember that back in the days of 1e-2e D&D, if you raised your character's Strength above 18, you started getting an extra Strength score based on a percentile (for example, Str 18/50). For some unknown reason this only applied to Strength, and if you actually went over Str 18/100, you could go to Str 19 which was ridiculously powerful. Well, HackMaster puts a percentile component on every stat, but it actually acts like a proper percentile: when it goes up over 100, you increase your main stat score and roll the percentile over as appropriate. This is mainly used for incremental stat gains.

5. You can spend 25 BP to swap two of your stats, or 50 BP to swap as many of them as you like. This is why the "40 build points" is really 90, since the game represents this as a bonus for not swapping stats.

While we're here, we should probably mention what the stats do:
Strength affects how much you can carry, your bonus to damage rolls, and your "feat of strength" modifier (a sort of combination of the old bend bars/lift gates type rolls from 2e..)
Dexterity gives you bonuses to initiative, to-hit and defense, plus affecting your Dodge save and your "feat of agility" modifier (as above);
Constitution gives you HP (as always), and modifies your Physical save;
Intelligence gives you a bonus to-hit, and bonus BP for buying intelligence skills (it also affects spellcasting, but that's in the class section);
Wisdom gives you bonuses to initiative and defense, a BP bonus for Wisdom skills, and affects your Mental save;
Charisma gives you BP for Charisma skills, and bonuses to Honor, Morale, and Turning Undead;
Looks modifies your Charisma (so everything has to be calculated twice, thanks a bundle) and also affects Honor and Fame, which we'll come to later.
In case you were wondering, those three saves - Dodge, Physical, and Mental - are all the saves there are. Which was one of the things that made me jump: that's from 13th Age !

6. Pick a race. You can choose from: Dwarf, Elf, Gnome, Gnome Titan (gnomes bred for battle), "Grel" (basically dark, psychotic elves), Half-Elf, Half-Hobgoblin, Half-orc, Halfling, Human, and Pixie-Faerie. We'll come onto these later, but they give the standard kind of stat modification things you'd generally expect from races.

7. Pick a class. We have: Fighter, Ranger, Barbarian, Thief (which has sneaky type skills), Rogue (which has faceman/conman type skills), Assassin, Mage, Fighter/Mage, Fighter/Thief, Mage/Thief, and Cleric. Cleric pops up at the end because there's an entire chapter of the book devoted to different faiths the Cleric might be. You also have to pay BP for your class, based on the class/race combo you chose. Most of them cost between 20-30 points, but there are a few that are ridiculously expensive, with some hitting 75 points (Dwarf Ranger, Barbarian or Mage; Gnome Titan Mage or Cleric; Half-Hobgoblin Mage; Half-Orc Mage or Rogue; Halfling Mage or Assassin; Pixie-Faerie Cleric or Assassin) and a very few being outright banned (Elf, Gnome, Gnome Titan, Half-Elf, Halfling or Pixie-Faerie Barbarian; Grel Ranger or Rogue). As you'd expect from the 1e heritage, Humans get any class at the cheapest possible value, 20 BP.

8. You can now top up your ability scores by spending BP on them, too. 1 BP gets you 5 percentile points on a stat - unless the stat is below 9, in which case it gets you 10%, or above 16, in which case it gets you 3%.

9. Roll up the "priors and particulars", also known as those things you rolled for in old D&D editions that almost nobody paid attention to (unlike the background-based things you roll for in new D&D editions that nobody pays attention to). These are Age, Height, Body Mass index (yes, you actually calculate your weight by rolling your Body Mass Index and then reverse-engineering your actual weight based on your height), Handedness, and Circumstances of Birth.

10. Determine quirks and flaws. These are essentially random minor disadvantages that give you BPs back. You can roll them randomly, or choose; the problem is, if you choose, they're all counted as returning half the BP value they would if rolled randomly. It's up to you how many you take, but there's a cumulative BP return penalty of 5 points per quirk/flaw beyond the first, so eventually it'll just stop being worth it. You can also reroll a randomly rolled quirk/flaw for 1 BP.. which is the first, and not the only, time that the character generation process has you spending BP on a one-way action, making it a serious nightmare to try and do character generation with a spreadsheet or similar. The book also says players should only get 50% return for quirks/flaws that they don't work into a backstory, but good luck enforcing that one...

11. Buying more fun stuff! Talents, Proficiencies, and Skills.

Talents are the simplest of the lot. You pay some BP, you have the talent, you're done.

Proficiencies , as you may have guessed from the name, are the Weapon Proficiencies from D&D... plus some other things, which are a bit like Talents. Profiencies are always gained with individual weapons, although their costs are determined in groups and some of the classes give proficiency in "everything" in one or more categories. You can also take Weapon Specialization, but that's a much more complex system in HackMaster than it was in D&D: it's not exclusive to Fighters, although they pay less for it. Essentially, any time you buy a weapon specialization you buy a +1 bonus to one of the weapon's traits (attack, defense, damage, and speed). Once you have +1 in all of those, you can start buying +2s, and so on.

Skills are skills as from any regular RPG, and they have their own system. They're percentile based: you roll percentiles, if you roll under your skill, you succeed - although there's some pretty huge modifiers for difficulty (an "easy" use of a skill lets you subtract 90% from the roll). Your default value in a skill is the raw number for its governing stat, unless it's a trained only skill in which case you just can't use it if you haven't spent any points on it. Like everything else, you buy them with BP, and they cost varying amounts, and also.. exactly how much of a skill bonus you get for your BP is variable. Whenever you spend BP on a skill, you get to roll a "mastery die", and add a modifier based on your governing stat, and that's how many points you get. The mastery die starts at d12 and gradually decreases size the more points in the skill you currently have - so getting the last few points can be a real bastard. Oh, except for one little thing. The mastery die is also explosive , so if you roll a 12, you get to roll again and add one less than the result to your total, repeating if you roll more 12s. So you can technically leapfrog up the skill ladder like crazy if you roll well. This again is another case where BP expenditure is one-way, so good luck for min-maxers who want to play fair. The GMs guide actually gives an explanation for this rather strange way of doing skills, saying that they wanted to make sure that people couldn't just determine their entire skill build at level 1 as players tend to do in D&D and Pathfinder. That might be a bit of an overcorrection..

12. And now, finally, we can roll our HP and equip.

This section ends with a cheerful note that all ambiguity in the character generation rules should be resolved in the way that is worst for the PC. *grog*

So, we'll start looking at the races and classes next. Anyone particularly want us to make a character, and if so, what kind?

Character Creation Example

posted by hyphz Original SA post

HackMaster, 2

Ok, let's have a crack at the first of those characters; a Gnome Titan Fighter. First step, the all important array roll.

Side note: HackMaster has a really odd idea about the order in which you roll your stats by default. Most D&D players I know use the Physical/Mental divide: Str, Dex, Con, Int, Wis, Cha. Some older edition grognards use Str, Dex, Int, Wis, Con, Cha; and 4e fans use Str, Con, Dex, Int, Wis, Cha. HackMaster suggests Str, Int, Wis, Dex, Con, Looks, Cha, which I'm not sure has any relationship to anything. I'm going to go ahead and use phys/mental, because it's what I'm used to and makes sense.

So, here we go:
Str 13 / 18
Dex 9 / 40
Con 10 / 26
Int 13 / 27
Wis 6 / 26
Cha 11 / 78
Looks 13 / 14

That's a pretty good start. Good Strength is helpful. Dex 9 isn't great, and Con 10 might be a problem. On the other hand, switching them out will cost 25-50BP, so we might be better sticking to what we have. With a 78% percentile, buying up the Cha might be a good idea.

Now we go Gnome Titan. The full list of stuff we get for this is as follows:
* -1 Str, +2 Con, -1 Cha.
* Considered Large for knockback when fighting giants and giant-kin, and get +6 defense against giants, ogres, and trolls or +4 against everyone else.
* +1 attack vs Goblins and Kobolds.
* Get the attack bonus of the next level up in our class.
* Low light vision.
* Automatic proficiency in Groin Stomp . If someone's prone, knocked down or asleep, we can jump on them (the book mentions it need not actually be the groin) to stun them for 2d8p ticks, cause 1-4 points of damage, cost them a point of Honor, and repeat the maneuver every 10 ticks.
* -1 foot effective reach.
* Native language of Gnomish; must buy other languages.
* Size small for hit points and knock-backs.
* Half movement speed.
* 10% XP penalty.
* Inappropriate Sense of Humor Quirk (tends to laugh when bad things happen to other people and play pranks at the wrong moment)

So, we've got a few terms coming in here. First of all, that "2d8p" business - that indicates the dice are explosive (Hackmaster calls them "penetrating"). Secondly, the attack and defense bonuses. Unlike D&D, in Hackmaster most of the rolls for attack and defense are opposed d20 rolls, which means they have a bell curve and small modifiers are more important - this is part of the reason why it isn't such a huge panic to have lower stats.

Finally, we also mentioned "ticks", also called "seconds". Hackmaster uses a counting initiative system a bit like Feng Shui and the older versions of Shadowrun , with the exception that those systems have you counting down seconds until the end of the round. In Hackmaster, the count goes up , to no limit and there is no such thing as a round. So 10 ticks means that the action takes 10 cycles of the count-up.

Now, on top of this we add the Fighter class. This gives us a hit dice d10, and..

* Our progression statistics (the stuff that goes up as we gain levels) are Attack Bonus, Speed, and Initiative. At level 1, we don't get any bonuses yet. Oh, but wait! Because we're a Gnome Titan, we get the Attack Bonus of a character one level higher, which is +1.
* We start with proficiency in Minimal Skill Weapons - which is fists and clubs. Any other weapon proficiencies we buy are half the usual cost. Weapon Specializations cost 5 BP, no matter what weapon they are for.
* We also start with proficiency with heavy armor and shields, and some additional proficiencies: Hiking/Marching (increases your travel speed across terrain, and allows you to force-march faster at the cost of being fatigued), Laborer (allows you to meaningfully contribute to menial group tasks), and Phalanx (allows you to fight in ranks with polearms behind you and pikes behind them, without accruing penalties). Unfortunately, at the moment we won't get the Hiking proficiency because it requires 11 Con, so we'd need to swap stats around in order to get it.
* We get a free purchase of the Appraisal (Weapons) skill.

So, questions for the moment:
* Do we go ahead with these stats, or swap some or all of them?
* What weapons shall we go for proficiency with? The choices we have and the adjusted BP costs (not counting the ones we already have) are:
1 BP: Bardiche, Battle Axe, Crossbow, Dagger, Fauchard, Fauchard-Fork, Flail, Glaive, Great Warhammer, Guisarme, Hand Axe, Javelin, Knife, Mace, Military Fork, Military Pick, Morningstar, Partisan, Pike, Scourge, Short sword, Spear, Spetum, Staff, Warhammer, Voulge
2 BP: Bec de Corbin, Bill-Guisarme, Broadsword, Glaive-Guisarme, Greatsword, Guisarme-voulge, Halberd, Horseman's Flail, Horseman's Mace, Horseman's Pick, Lance, Longsword, Ranseur, Sabre, Scimitar, Short Bow, Sling, Thrown Axe, Thrown Knife, Trident, Two-handed Scythe, two-handed Sword
3 BP: Longbow

Size problems and lots of luck

posted by hyphz Original SA post

Hackmaster, 3: Size problems and lots of luck

Ok, so, bearing in mind the requests so far, we're keeping our stats in the same places. That means we can lock in the racial stat modifiers, giving us:

Str 13-1 = 12/18
Dex 9/40
Con 10+2 = 12/26
Int 13/27
Wis 6/26
Cha 11-1+1 = 11/78
Looks 13/14

Notice the -1+1 to Charisma caused by the fact that while being a Gnome Titan gives us -1 cha, having Looks 13 gives us +1 Cha.

We have 90 BP because we didn't reorder our stats, and being a Gnome Titan fighter cost us 20 of them. While it'd be a lovely idea to spent the remainder on being proficient with every single polearm in the game, we find a bit of a snag here..

See, in the race description, you'll remember it said "Size small for HPs and knockbacks". But, what size are we for everything else? Well, it seems nothing actually says. You might just infer "small", but elves also have that line about being small for HP and knockback purposes, so that isn't so obvious a solution. It turns out that the trick is to look up your race in the Hacklopedia of Beasts (that is, the Monster Manual) which will helpfully tell you that Gnome Titans are Small. And unfortunately, most Polearms are Large, which means a Gnome Titan can't wield them. Bummer. The one we can wield is the Short Spear, so we'll spend 2 points on that.

Short Spear: M, reach 5, speed 12, d4p+d6p, shield take lowest, set for charge, jab speed 8, puncturing.

We'll also spend 1 points on Great Warhammer (d8p+d10p, shield d10p, speed 12, reach 2.5) and 1 on the regular Warhammer (2d6p ignoring 1 DR vs 5+ DR, shield d6p, speed 8, reach 1.5) because that way we can use a shield if we want, and shields have some funky rules we should probably mention. We already have the shield proficiency from being a fighter.

So, so far our proficiency list and BP expenditure looks like:

20 Gnome Titan Fighter
P - Laborer
P - Hiking/Marching
P - Phalanx Fighting
P - Groin Stomp
P 1 Short Spear
P 1 Great Warhammer
P 1 Not so great Warhammer

While we're here, we may as well look at the other proficiency options we have:

Angawa Battle Cry: a whoop at the start of the battle which triggers morale checks on opponents.
Bilingual: gives you an extra native language. Normally languages are picked up as skills, but this lets you get the bonus for a language being native. However, the HackMaster equivalent of Common is Merchant's Tongue, and since that isn't anyone's native language, it presumably can't be taken this way.
Etiquette: You know the manners of a particular culture.
Glersee: You can write runes or similar that convey messages and are hard to see. They aren't encrypted, but can be hard to spot.
Local History: You know the history of a given area.
Magical Transcription: Lets you copy spells, if you're a mage, which we're not.
Maintenance/Upkeep: you can fix up dwellings and adventuring equipment.
Peg Leg: yep. You have a peg leg. This is actually a serious disadvantage - it gives you -2 to Attack and Defense - and it costs 10 BP, so the only reason to take it is later in the game if you've had a leg hacked off.
Skinning: you can skin and tan hides.
Style Sense: you know the art, music, fashion, etc of a particular area.
Taxidermy: you can stuff and mount dead creatures.

And also the talents. These are similar to proficiencies, but they're much, much more expensive.

Advanced Sighting: When you shoot at things they're treated as only 2/3 their actual distance away.
Attack Bonus: Gives you +1 to hit with a melee weapon. Can't stack.
Blind-Fighting: You take half the penalties for fighting in darkness or fighting invisible creatures.
Blind-shooting: You can fire at things you can't see, with a penalty.
Combat Casting: You can defend fully against one opponent while casting a spell.
Crack shot: Attack Bonus, but for ranged weapons.
Damage bonus: Gives you +1 to hit with a melee weapon. Can't stack.
Deceptive Defender: You can trick opponents into thinking you have openings you don't, so you get +1 defense for an opponent's initial attkc.
Greased Lightning: You get -1 speed (lower speed is better) with a ranged weapon.
Improved Reach: Adds an effective +1 foot to the reach of your weapon. Unfortunately, it needs Dex 13.
One-Upmanship: If you tie your Attack with the opponent's Defense, you normally miss; but with this, if you have greater Honor than they do and can come up with a snarky one-liner, you can hit instead.
Parry Bonus: Gives you +1 defense with a melee weapon. Like everything else, it can't stack.
Precision Aiming: lowers the penalties for making called shots with ranged weapons.
Precision Combatant: like Precision Aiming, but for melee weapons.
Swiftblade: Like Greased Lightning, but for melee weapons.
Age Gracefully: You never lose appearance for age.
Charm Resistant: You get a +12 bonus to saves against magical charms.
Diminish Spell Fatigue: Normally, after a mage casts a spell, they enter Spell Fatigue and are vulnerable for a short time. This lets you reduce the amount of time.
Dodge: Increases your defense against missile weapons.
Fast Healer: as you'd expect, you heal wounsd faster.
Forgettable Face: people forget you quickly. Specifically, NPCs only remember you 10% of the time, or 85% of the time if you had a significant conversation wit them.
Hit Point Bonus: You get an extra d4 hit bonus. This one does stack.
Illusion Resistance: +6 saves against illusions.
Improved Awareness: HackMaster's version of improved initiative. Instead of giving a flat bonus, it lets you roll a better dice type; we'll get onto the initiative dice types when we first have a fight.
Less Sleep: You only need 3 hours sleep and get +12 save against sleep spells.
Long Distance Runner: You can run long distances at 40 miles a day in good terrain, but have to make regular Con checks if you do.
Mitigate Spell Fatigue: Lowers the penalties from spell fatigue.
No Accent: You don't give away your area of origin when speaking a foreign language.
Pain Tolerant: You get a bonus to your Threshold of Pain. This is actually a pretty big deal: if a single blow exceeds your threshold of pain, you have to make a Con roll or be stunned and knocked down (called being "ToPped"). This is not an uncommon way of going down.
Physical Conditioning: You get tired less fast.
Poison Resistance: You get a +1 bonus to rolls to resist poisons.
Polyglot: Buying new languages is cheaper.
Resolute: Any time you're knocked to 0HP, you can make a check to regain d8 HP.. but only for a limited amount of time. In that time, you need to do something to heal or you'll just fall over again.
Stort: You're harder to knock back.
Supernatural Affinity: You get 20 spell points. This doesn't let you cast spells, but some items made for mages have you spending spell points to activate them, and you can use them.
Tough as Nails: you roll a better dice type when making checks to avoid being topped.
Tough Hide: You get 1 natural armor.

We also have skills and quirks to deal with. Skills we'll leave until next time because there are rather a lot of them, but let's go ahead and roll a few Quirks now. Being a Gnome Titan, we already have Inappropriate Sense of Humor. The roll is made on.. a d1000. Of course.

First roll: 026. "Abstinent". We've sworn off something, specifically (roll d10: 10) sex. This doesn't have a great deal of effect, except we can't gain the Seduction skill. And we get 10 BP back. Nice start.

Second roll: 443. "Nagging Conscience". Whenever we do something bad or mess things up for someone else, we have to spend way too long making unnecessarily exaggerated apologies. Normally worth 15 BP, but it's only worth 10 because it's our second quirk. Still not too bad.

Third roll: 194. "Compulsive Liar". Speaks for itself. So now we go around randomly telling lies and then regretting it and apologizing. Normally worth 25 BP, but only worth 15 for being our third. This is still really good.

Fourth roll: 717. "Allergy". We are allergic to (d10 roll: 6) some kind of food. Probably nuts. This is normally worth 15 BP, but is now worth sod all because it's our fourth quirk, so it's probably time to stop.

Our total quirk return was 35 BP, which is a really good deal - we'd spent 23 so far, so we've actually made a profit, and are now on 102. So, what talents or proficiences or skills should we get? We probably have the scope to go pretty wild.

While we're here, let's see just how silly it would have been if we'd made this Fighter a Pixie-Faerie instead of a Gnome Titan. (Given the pattern of the thread we shall call them Emilie and then forget they ever exist.) With the Pixie-Faerie stat modifiers, our stat would come out as:

Str 13-8 = 5/18
Dex 9+4 = 13/40
Con 10-4 = 8/26
Int 13/27
Wis 6/26
Cha 11+0+3 = 14/78
Looks 13+4 = 17/14

It costs a Pixie-Faerie 50 points to be a Fighter, so we're down to 40 points already. Also, forget being limited by being size Small: now we're size Tiny. We promptly get proficiency with the only polearm available, the Fairy Spetum, costing us 1 point, and having no reach at all and only 2d3 regular damage. This probably isn't going to work too well...

Budget, Budget, Budget

posted by hyphz Original SA post

HackMaster, 4: Budget, Budget, Budget

Seiklos McBucket posted:

Str 13-1 = 12/18
Dex 9/40
Con 10+2 = 12/26
Int 13/27
Wis 6/26
Cha 11-1+1 = 11/78
Looks 13/14

20 Gnome Titan Fighter
(+4 defense, +1 attack vs goblinods, small size, -1 reach, half move speed)

P - Laborer
P - Hiking/Marching
P - Phalanx Fighting
P - Groin Stomp
P 1 Short Spear
P 1 Great Warhammer
P 1 Not so great Warhammer

Q Inappropriate Sense of Humor
Q -10 Abstinent: Sex
Q -10 Nagging Conscience
Q -15 Compulsive Liar
Q 0 Allergy: Food

102 BP remaining

So, the votes (well, the vote) is for Angawa Battle Cry and Maintenance. These cost us 12 BP together. For the Angawa Battle Cry, we need to have novice proficiency in Sarlangan (the language of the Grels who invented the cry), but that won't be a problem when we come to skills.

Talents are a bit more of a problem. One-Upmanship is a given at 10BP, but Tough Hide costs a whopping 40. Improved Awareness is also useless to us because assuming we're going to be wearing heavy armor eventually (which we presumably are since we're a tank), the initiative bonus it gives us will be cancelled out by the armor. (Wearing heavy armor can negate an initiative bonus, but can't actually impose a penalty.)


P 7 Angawa Battle Cry (need Novice Sarlangan)
P 5 Maintenance / Upkeep
T 10 One-Upmanship - win ties if have more Honor and snark at opponent
T 20 Stout - one size larger for knockback
T 24 Less Sleep - +12 to save against sleep, 3 hours sleep enough
T 12 Tough as Nails - ToP checks are d12p, not d20p
24 BP remaining

Now it's time for skills ! Skills are percentile based. Regular skill checks are done by rolling under your skill on percentile dice, but with a modifier for anything harder that "hard" checks - -80 for Easy, -40 for Average. This seems a bit odd, but I like the idea that this is a message to the GM that "average" usage of a skill might not be great to roll for. Every skill is governed by one or more stats, and these determine the starting value of the skill. Some skills are Universal, and you get a starting rating of those equal to the value of the lowest dependent stat. So our starting Universal skill scores are:

Acting (Lks/Cha) 11%
Animal Husbandry (Wis) 6%
Animal Mimicry (Wis) 6%
Boating (Wis) 6%
*Cartography (Int) 13%
Climbing (Str/Dex) 9%
Current Affairs (Wis) 6%
Diplomacy (Cha) 11%
Disguise (Int/Cha) 11%
Distraction (Cha) 11%
Fire Building (Wis) 6%
Glean Information (Int/Wis/Cha) 6%
Hiding (Int/Dex) 9%
Interrogation (Wis/Cha) 6%
Intimidation (Str/Cha) 11%
Jumping (Str) 12%
*Law (Int) 13%
Listening (Wis) 6%
Observation (Wis) 6%
Oration (Cha) 11%
Persuasion (Cha) 11%
Pick Pockets (Dex) 9%
Read Lips (Int) 13%
Recruit (Cha) 11%
Resist Persuasion (Wis) 6%
Rope Use (Dex) 9%
Salesmanship (Int/Wis/Cha) 6%
Scrutiny (Wis) 6%
*Seduction (Looks/Cha) 11%
Skilled Liar (Cha) 11%
Sneaking (Dex) 9%
Survival (Wis/Con) 6%
Torture (Int) 13%
Tracking (Wis) 6%

We're limited in the ones marked with stars, though: Law and Cartography because we're by default illiterate unless we buy up the Literacy skill, and Seduction because of the Abstinence:Sex quirk.

We also get a starting roll of 37+2*Int+d20p in our native language. Rolling this, I got a 20 - which, because of the p, explodes, and the next roll of 12 gives a result of 31 (not 32 because 1 is subtracted from the exploded rolls, meaning it is possible to get a 20 by rolling 20, 1) 37+13+13+31 gives us..

Language, Gnomish (Int) 94%

Skill levels are divided into ranks based on the rating you have, and the book lists example tasks you could accomplish at each rank (although it doesn't list the modifiers for them, which is a bit of a bummer). Most skills, we are Novice in with a rating of <25%, but we are a Master of Gnomish, able to nitpick grammar with the best of them with the added bonus of actually being right (and having a hammer).

You'll also remember that being a Fighter give us a free purchase in a non-Universal skill: Appraisal, Armor and Weapons. Since it's a non-Universal skill, purchasing it means we raise it from 0 to the stat base minimum as above, then roll a Mastery Die. (If we purchased a Universal skill, we'd just roll the Mastery Die.) What's a Mastery Die? It's a dice that governs how many % points your skill increases. The die type is determined by your existing rank (higher ranks roll lower dice, so they have harder times buying up the last few points in a skill) and modified by your stat. As mentioned before, this is a really vicious mechanic at character generation because it means that skill purchases are one-way; if you screw up and realize you shouldn't have bought a skill, your GM would presumably be within the rights to tell you that you can't undo the purchase because otherwise you could just reverse the purchases for any rolls that turned out badly.

So. Appraisal is INT-based, so our base from our stat is 13%. That makes us a Novice, so we then roll the Mastery Die for a Novice, which is a d12p, and get a 7. Because of our 13 Int, we get a +1 bonus to the mastery die (the mastery die bonuses are exactly equal to the universal modifiers in D&D 3e+), so we gain 8 points on top of the 13, getting 21%.

We're also going to need to buy up the Sarlangan skill for our war cry. Buying languages at character generation is cheap, only 1 BP for a purchase (it gets more expensive in play, since you have to have exposure to the language - unless you took Polyglot, in which case you can buy languages cheap whenever you like). Languages are INT-based, so, dadada, base 13%, roll d12p, get a 9, add 1,

Language, Sarlangan (Int) 23%
23 BP remaining

And while we're at it:
Language, Merchant's Tongue (Int) 16%
22 BP remaining

We have only Novice mastery in these languages, which means we can "speak a few common words correctly and communicate with extensive pantomime". That's all we need for Sarlangan, which isn't too popular (it's the Grel language) but for Merchant's Tongue, which is Common, that might be a problem.

Ohh, but wait a second! The fact we have a high Intelligence also gives us bonus BPs to spend on Int-related skills. Int 13 gives us only one. Wis and Cha can do that too, but we don't have high enough scores in those. Still, we'll take what we can get:

23 BP remaining

You've probably noticed that these skills are.. kinda grainy. And these are only the Universal skills! The full list of other skills (which I won't give the stats for because there's too many) is:

Administration, Agriculture, Animal Empathy, Animal Herding, Animal Training, Appraisal, Arcane Lore, Artistry, Astrology, Blacksmithing, Botany, Carpentry, Cooking, Craft, Direction Sense, Disarm Trap, Divine Lore, Fast Talk, First Aid, Forestry, Forgery, Gambling, Geology, History, Hunting, Identify Trap, Leatherworking, Literacy, Lock Picking, Mathematics, Mining, Monster Lore, Musician, Pottery, Religion, Riddling, Riding, Urban Survival, Swimming, Trap Design, Weather Sense.

That makes a pretty good shopping list, but.. hang on a second. Before we get too lost, let's think a bit about the next step: our equipment.

HackMaster starting characters are poor. Damn poor. Even if you use the Social Class table from the DMG, the highest class you can roll is "Upper Lower class". They also give the reason for this: rich or middle-upper class characters would probably have much more sense than to attempt to go adventuring, and so inevitably having such a class means fudging together a backstory about losing everything, and rags-to-riches stories are much more appealing than riches-to-rags-back-to-riches, so why even bother starting high? We get to start with 35+2d12 silver...

And I rolled a fucking 2.

Fortunately, we can buy ourselves a hammer (2 sp), a bigger hammer (5 sp), and a small shield (15 sp), leaving us 15 sp left over. (A medium shield would bankrupt us.) Armor, however, is a problem. Heavy Armor? You're having a laugh. The cheapest is 120 sp. Even if we bought a poor quality suit (which is 25% cost with unspecified penalties that are hidden in the GM's guide..) we couldn't afford it. We can buy leather armor (6 sp, 9 left), and fortunately armor proficiencies are cumulative, so our heavy armor proficiency means we can use light armor too. The reason to think about this is that we can buy more SP at the cost of 1 BP per 5 SP.

We can now start to get some statistics together, too:

Starting HP: CON + 5 (size) + d10 = 24

Hammer (2.5 pounds):
Attack -1 (dex) +1 (int) +1 (fighter/GT) = +1
Speed 8 (hammer)
Damage 2d6p+1 (Str) = 2d6p+1
Shield damage d6p+1 (Str) = d6p+1

Defense:-1 (encumbrance) -2 (leather armor) -1 (dex) -2 (wis) +4 (shield) = -2
Damage reduction: 2 (leather armor) + 4 (small shield) = 6

Notice that armor makes you easier to hit, but gives you damage reduction - heavy armor does even more than this, so you literally end up being a walking tank. Shields are a little odd, in that they also change the nature of your defense roll as well as giving you a bonus to it, but we'll see more about that later on. For now, any requests on skills to buy up or BP to spend on silver to buy extra kit? Bear in mind that our leather armor is already making us lightly encumbered.

Let's hack something

posted by hyphz Original SA post

HackMaster, 5: Let's hack something

So, with our last few BP I missed the most obvious option. Being a Fighter, we can buy specializations for 5 BP a piece, so with 20 BP we can buy all four +1 specializations for the Hammer. This gives us an extra point of damage, an extra point of to-hit, one point less speed (which is good), and one point to defense when wielding it (since it can be used to parry). These are the four specializations you can take, and after taking these we could potentially move on to taking +2 specializations and so on, but we haven't the BP for that, and we won't have for quite a while.



Str 13-1 = 12/18 (+1 damage, +1 FoS, Encs 215/14/28/56/84/538)
Dex 9/40 (+3 init, -1 attack, -1 defense, 0 dodge, -2 FoA)
Con 10+2 = 12/26 (0 physical)
Int 13/27 (+1 attack, 1 BP bonus)
Wis 6/26 (+4 init, -2 defense, -2 mental save)
Cha 11-1+1 = 11/78 (0 honor, +1 turning, +1 morale, 3 proteges)
Looks 13/14 (+1 honor, 0 fame)

Gnome Titan: Large for knockback vs giants/giantkin, +6 defense vs giants and trolls,
attack bonus one level higher, low light vision, +4 defense, +1 attack vs goblins
-1 reach, small for HP and knockback, half speed

Fighter 1: d10 hit dice, +1 attack bonus (GT), 0 speed, 0 initative

20 Gnome Titan Fighter
P - Laborer
P - Hiking/Marching
P - Phalanx Fighting
P - Groin Stomp
P 1 Short Spear
P 1 Great Warhammer
P 1 Not so great Warhammer
Q Inappropriate Sense of Humor
Q -10 Abstinent: Sex
Q -10 Nagging Conscience
Q -15 Compulsive Liar
Q 0 Allergy: Food
P 7 Angawa Battle Cry
P 5 Maintenance / Upkeep
T 10 One-Upmanship
T 20 Stout
T 24 Less Sleep
T 12 Tough as Nails

Initiative +3 (dex)

Hammer (2.5 pounds):
Attack: -1 (dex) +1 (int) +1 (fighter/GT) +1 (specialization) = +2
Speed: 8 -1 (specialization) = 7 (hammer)
Damage: 2d6p+1 (Str) +1 (specialization) = 2d6p+2
Shield damage: d6p+1 (Str) +1 (specialization) = d6p+2

Defense: -1 (encumbrance) -2 (leather armor) -1 (dex) -2 (wis) +4 (shield) +4 (Gnome Titan) +1 (specialization) = +3

Damage reduction: 2 (leather armor) + 4 (small shield) = 6
Speed 10 - 7.5 - 5 - 2.5 - 1.25

HP 10+5+9 = 24
TOP threshold = 7
TOP save = 6

Acting (Lks/Cha) 11%
Appraise, Armor and Weapons (Int) 21%
Animal Husbandry (Wis) 6%
Animal Mimicry (Wis) 6%
*Cartography (Int) 13%
Climbing (Str/Dex) 9%
Current Affairs (Wis) 6%
Diplomacy (Cha) 11%
Disguise (Int/Cha) 11%
Distraction (Cha) 11%
Fire Building (Wis) 6%
Glean Information (Int/Wis/Cha) 6%
Hiding (Int/Dex) 9%
Interrogation (Wis/Cha) 6%
Intimidation (Str/Cha) 11%
Jumping (Str) 12%
Language, Gnomish (Int) 94%
Language, Sarlangan (Int) 23%
*Law (Int) 13%
Listening (Wis) 6%
Observation (Wis) 6%
Oration (Cha) 11%
Persuasion (Cha) 11%
Pick Pockets (Dex) 9%
Read Lips (Int) 13%
Recruit (Cha) 11%
Resist Persuasion (Wis) 6%
Rope Use (Dex) 9%
Salesmanship (Int/Wis/Cha) 6%
Scrutiny (Wis) 6%
Seduction (Looks/Cha) 11%
Skilled Liar (Cha) 11%
Sneaking (Dex) 9%
Survival (Wis/Con) 6%
Torture (Int) 13%
Tracking (Wis) 6%

So, having worked through all that, we should at least be able to take out our frustrations by actually getting into a fight with something. So, our dear Satyros is walking down a shady road in a bad part of the world when A Goblin (Anthony Goblin to you) jumps out and ambushes him.

As mentioned previously, HackMaster's initiative system is based on counting up . Since the Goblin is starting the fight, he by definition goes on 1. What Satyros goes on is determined by his modifier and a dice roll, and the type of dice roll is based on how much he knew about what was going to happen. The default is a d12, but in this case he was likely expecting some kind of trouble, so he'll roll a d10. (If he could hear the goblin was around, he would roll a d8; if he knew exactly where he was about to jump out from, he would roll a d4.) Unfortunately, since he's kinda clumsy, his initative is +3, which is bad.

And he rolls: 7+3, 10. So his first action will be on tick 10. This is potentially very bad for him, but not quite as bad as it sounds.

So, on 1, the goblin jumps out and attacks. HackMaster determines the hit points of monsters by a semi-random formula; the hit points for a goblin are 17+d6, so a quick roll tells us that this goblin has 22 hit points. It attacks with a rather badly made short sword, rolling d20p+3 to hit. Unfortunately, since Satyros is still surprised, he only gets to roll a d8p in his defense, and doesn't get any defense bonus, nor his shield!

Results, 13+3 = 16 vs 7. The goblin has hit. His damage is 2d6p-1; he rolls 4-1=3. Aha! Satyros is in luck. Because he's surprised he doesn't get the damage reduction from his shield, but he does get the reduction from his armor , which is 2 points. So Satyros takes a 1 point wound. Insert Black Knight quote here. Also, having been attacked knocks him out of Surprise after 2 ticks, so he'll get to go on 3.

The Goblin's sword has a speed of 8, so he'll get to attack again on tick 9. However, the rules get kind of funky at this point: that doesn't mean he can't do anything in the meantime. He's actually allowed to move around freely while waiting for the next attack slot. If he managed to disengage completely from Satyros, by moving away further than 5' plus his reach with the hammer, he could potentially "unlock his count" and go hit somebody else right away. However, the GMG then mentions that apparently some Brian types decided to abuse this by jumping away from an opponent, unlocking count, and then immediately charging back in on the same opponent ignoring weapon speed, which it tells us shouldn't be acceptable.. so I guess the actual criteria for unlocking has a fair dose of GM fudgery in it.

I should probably mention movement, too. There's four versions of movement: Walk, Jog, Run, and Sprint. Each of these multiplies your base speed by a standard amount. Walking and Jogging are free, but Running and Sprinting require you to speed up and slow down (you have to Walk/Jog for a turn first, and it takes 10' to stop, although the rules for what happens if you slam into something aren't particularly clear). Sprinting also tires you out. If the goblin was determined to be an sniping asshole, it probably could: it's the same speed as him, so the 2 ticks when he's still surprised would let the goblin jog or run away. But, this goblin is going to be either dumb or way too brave and hold his ground.

So, on 3, Satyros gets to strike back. He rolls a d20p plus his attack bonus of +2, and gets.. a 6, for a total of 8. The goblin gets to roll defense, and as the goblin is not surprised, he gets a proper defense roll.

Now, remember I mentioned that using a shield changes things up a great deal? If you don't have a shield, your defense roll is d20p-4 ( before modifiers) because then you're actually dodging and that's hard to do, and wearing armor makes it harder. If you're using a shield, the logic goes, you aren't dodging any more; you're trying to get hit , just on the shield. That means you roll a full d20p (plus modifiers) but if you're missed within 10 points, it's assumed you blocked with the shield. This means you still take damage, but the opponent's damage roll is heavily reduced (usually halved) and you can apply the shield's DR. So, the goblin's shield and quickness means his roll is d20p+6. He gets a 6, for a 12. Since 12 is higher than 8, but within 10 points, the goblin blocked Satyros's attack with his shield, and Satyros gets to roll his shield damage.

Shield damage can either be calculated using a separate formula based on the weapon (reflecting that shields do better against swords than blunt weapons) or just handwaved by halving the dice component of the weapon damage. Satyros' shield damage with a hammer is d6p+2, and he gets a 4, for 6 damage. Since the shield offers 4 DR and the goblin also has leather armor for 2 DR, the damage is entirely soaked. Satyros's speed with the hammer is 7, so he'll get to go again on 10.

On 9, the goblin attacks again, but now Satyros is no longer surprised he can defend properly. d20+3 for the goblin vs d20+3 for Satyros. Unfortunately for the goblin, he rolls a 1. This means he misses, and is in danger of a fumble. Satyros rolls a 19 (I'm really rolling these, honest) for a result of 22. This means that not only has the goblin fumbled, but Satyros has rolled a near-perfect defense. The NPD gives Satyros a free hand-to-hand attack, which wouldn't be much use as he doesn't have a free hand.. but he does have a hammer, which is a Small weapon, so he can use that. (If he'd rolled a 20, he would have gotten a weapon attack no matter what weapon he was using.) That's 2d6p+2 damage, and he gets 7. Now, if it had been an unarmed attack, the goblin's armor wouldn't have counted, but the rules don't make it clear if it counts for an armed attack or not. Certainly his shield doesn't count, because he wasn't expecting the attack. So for the moment let's say that the goblin's armor does count. The goblin takes a 5 point wound. Bad start - and we still need to deal with that fumble.

For the fumble, we have to refer to the table in the GameMaster's Guide, for these rules are supposedly secret. We calculate the difference between the modified attack roll (4) and the modified defense roll (22); the difference is 18. Multiply by 10, 180. Then add this to a roll of a d1000. I rolled 403, so our fumble Id is 583. 583 indicates that the Goblin has just dulled or cracked the edge of his sword and from now on will get -1 to hit and damage with it. Also, because the fumble Id was odd , Satyros gets another free counter-attack, and rolls 2d6p+2, getting 8. With the DR, Mr Goblin gets a 6 point wound, and now has lost 11 hit points.

Things get worse for him. Intelligent (or barely intelligent) monsters have a Tenacity level, and goblins by default are "Nervous". Since he just suffered more than 20% of his hit points in a single blow, he needs to make a Morale check at -4 for being Nervous. This is d20p-4, and he gets 9-4 = 5, opposed by Satyros' Charisma morale modifier which is +1. He rolls 18+1 = 19. This means that the goblin, having screwed up its attack so spectacularly, metaphorically soils itself and starts attempting a Fighting Withdrawal. It moves away 2.5" with its walking movement (and also potentially gets a penalty to its attack if it was to try attacking again). Its next attack will be on 17.

Satyros, however, goes on 10. He walks up to the cowering goblin and proceeds to put the hammer in. d20p+2 gets 9+2 = 11. d20p+6 for the goblin gets 8+6 = 14. Another hit to the shield! This time, however, Satyros gets lucky and his d6p+2 roll explodes, coming out to 9. The goblin's shield soaks 4, his armor soaks 2, so the goblin takes 3 points of blunt trauma. And there's another catch, too.. any time you block with a shield, there's a chance of the shield being destroyed if the blocked damage was too high, and 9 points of damage is enough to trigger a check on a small shield, albeit an easy one. Satyros rolls a raw d20p and rolls 19, and the goblin rolls d20p+6 and rolls a 2 for an 8 result. Satyros's hammer smashes the goblin's shield into splinters as it cowers. Satyros's next attack is due on 17.. the same as the goblin.

At this point, the heavily panicked goblin decides to flee, Jogging away from combat on 11. Fleeing potentially allows the attacker to attack again if the flee occurs within half of the attacker's speed value, but since Satyros just attacked last tick, he doesn't get that. He can, however, jog after it, forcing the goblin to take another Flee action in the next tick. This continues until tick 14, when Satyros's next attack does become due within half of his speed's worth of time. At this point, he can carry on chasing the goblin or attack it, but the attack will delay his pursuit by half his weapon speed again. He goes for the attack. d20p+2 gets 6+2 = 6. But the goblin no longer has his shield, so he now rolls d20p-4+2, and gets 2-2=0. 2d6p+2 comes out to 8, and the goblin no longer has his shield, so he has only 2 DR. He takes a 6 point wound, now down 17 HP. However, this attack slows Satyros down for the next 4 ticks, meaning the Goblin will have 4 rounds of jogging away. He could potentially sprint after it, but decides not to bother.

So, this should give a feel for HackMaster combat. To whit, it's ridiculously complicated, but at the same time, offers a heck of a lot of detail for roleplaying types. And even a goblin is non-trivial for someone on his own. Our next step, of course, will be to make up our Pixie-Faerie Mage and see if caster supremacy is still a thing..

We begin to make it better

posted by hyphz Original SA post

HackMaster, 6: We begin to make it better

So, the next step was going to be to make our Mage, but I've been a bit nervous about work events so instead we'll look at something a bit less complicated: levelling up.

Levelling up is based on a standard XP table for levels from 1-20. All classes level at the same speed (although Satyros would suffer a 10% XP earn penalty for being a Gnome Titan). There's no challenge ratings or similar: monsters just have an individual number of XP assigned to them. There are some other potential penalties, though: first of all, monsters fought on their own give 50% less XP than they do if met in a group (possibly with other types of monster). Secondly, there is a "wuss penalty" (not actually called that) for parties who do single fights then back out to rest, with the argument that they're learning less because of rote practice: the penalty is 75% for resting after one fight, 50% for resting after two, 25% for resting after three, and none beyond that.

Also, since we're in 1e country, you don't automatically level up when you hit the required XP total anyway: you have to take time out to train. From levels 2 to 5, you just head off and practice on your own for a bit, and get the benefits of your new level. At levels 6+, you can choose to go to school instead, or train yourself. There's a cost associated with either option, but it's not too big (10 silver for 6th level and 10 more for each level above that) - not as with the insanity in some previous D&D editions where you had to pay gold equal to the number of experience points you earned to get the level, meaning that dungeons mysteriously had to have millions and millions of gold in them or nobody would ever level up.

What happens when you level up? Well, your progression statistics for your class go up, and you also get a HP roll. However, HP rolls in HackMaster aren't always cumulative - at even number levels, you just get to reroll the previous levels' hit point dice and take the maximum, or (if you roll really badly both times) take the median dice result.

You also get to increase your stats. You grab a full set of dice - d20, d12, d10, d8, d6, and d4 - and assign one of them to each of your six stats other than Looks, and that's how many fractional points you gain in that stat. Yes, you get to increase your stats every level , so the random rolling aspect is tempered a bit more. You then get 15 BPs to spend on anything you want to spend BPs on; you can save some for the next level if you want to. Finally, Mages get to roll a random new spell. (I should also mentioned that, you know that D&D thing where mages get new spell levels every two character levels? HackMaster doesn't do that. Every character level is a spell level and spells range from levels 1-20.

The main difference between training yourself and going to school is a few restrictions on training yourself. You can't learn any weapon specialization above +2 on your own; it costs double BP to go above 75 points in a skill; you can only learn skills you've actually seen (whereas if you go to school you can learn any skill you can argue they'd be able to teach you), and you get a single reroll on one of the mastery dice you roll when buying skills with your BP, assuming you do that. Beyond that, you also get noticed by people in the school; your Honor and Fame go up, you make a randomly rolled contact, and you get to roll on the Training Events Table (which is top secret and in the GM's guide, but is actually universally positive)

Now, what's that Honor and Fame thing? I haven't really mentioned these so far. Honor was a mechanism from the original HackMaster to.. to.. well, to make you play like you were in the KoDT. Essentially, it gave logic for almost all the bad behavior you saw in PCs. In new HackMaster it's been scaled down a bit. For some reason, it's considered a stat, even though it isn't generated like a stat, doesn't have any skills based on it, doesn't have any stat modifiers and doesn't even have a percentile. The only thing it has to do with stats is that you generate your stating value by averaging your seven stat scores.

The idea is this: every time you level up, the GM rates the players on how well they played their class, how well they played their alignment, how well they generally played, and if they actually showed pride and interest in their character's personal honor. Each is scored from 1 to 10, and then based on that score a modifier is applied to the PC's honor score. Then, all the honor scores for the group are averaged and everyone's honor moves 1 point towards the group average. I'm not quite sure what that last mechanic is supposed to be for - it's supposed to indicate that highly honorable characters shouldn't be hanging around with scumbags, but unless you're going to kick the low honor player out of the campaign, I'm not really sure how you're supposed to model it.

Honor can be used for a couple of things. First of all, you can spend certain amounts of honor to reroll any dice; the amount increases with your level. You can also spend them like PP in Paranoia to modify die rolls. Finally, the higher your honor score is the more global bonuses you get. If it falls too low, you get -1 to all rolls, +1 to weapon speeds, and 5% penalty to skill checks. At moderately high, you get a +1 point or 5% bonus once a session. At the next level up, you get the +1 point bonus plus a free reroll of any one roll in a session. And at the highest level, Legendary (which isn't even accessible to starting characters), you get all those bonuses plus a free reroll of an enemy's roll against you. Unfortunately, at that point you're so well known everybody evil hates you.

Fame is essentially a bit like Honor, except it can't be spent, doesn't have those direct affects, and only changes when people hear about stuff you've done. It's more an RP value, and relates to follower's morale, although if you're really famous fighting someone who's nearly unknown you can get a combat bonus from it (!).

So, there's a bit more to say about XP and design (the dungeon design chapter in the HackMaster DMG is actually really good, up with some of the best ones, and distinguished from the D&D ones by the distinct lack of a list of non-system details about types of door). But I think we'll leave it for now, until a time when I'm not worried about people at work who have influence showing signs of demanding that everyone exceeds the average performance...

It's a kind of really overused reference

posted by hyphz Original SA post

HackMaster, 7: It's a kind of really overused reference

Well, work stress is still a thing, as is being weirdly depressed for no reason - must have blown a Helplessness check or something. Still, it's time to be making up our pixie-faerie mage. Time for the stat roll! Again, this is seriously what I ended up rolling..

Str 15 / 98
Dex 14 / 49
Con 13 / 19
Int 9 / 23
Wis 8 / 31
Cha 6 / 49
Looks 8 / 66

Well. We are not going to attempt to play a mage with Int 9 / 23, and we're not exactly going to be the cutest faerie, but we can probably manage with just one swap. Swapping Int for Str and then adding the Pixie-Faerie modifiers, and while we're at it we might as well spend 1 BP to tip that Int 15/98 over the edge:

26 BP spent, 64 remain

Str 9 -8 = 1 / 23 (-7 damage, -14 FoS, 32/3/5/10/15/80 lift)
Dex 14 +4 = 18 / 49 ( -3 initiative, +4 attack, +5 defense, +3 dodge, +13 FoA )
Con 13 -4 = 9 / 19
Int 16 / 08 ( +2 attack, 10 intelligence bonus BP )
Wis 8 / 31 ( +3 initiative, -1 defense, -1 mental save )
Cha 6 / 49 ( -2 start honor, -4 turning, -2 morale, 2 proteges )
Looks 8 +4 = 12 / 66 ( +1 start honor )

Want to hear a joke? How about our hit point total? Mages get a d4 hit dice, and Pixie Fairies are the only race that instead of getting a size bonus gets a size penalty.. to whit, they roll one die worse than they normally would. What's worse than a d4? A d3, it turns out. Fortunately, we roll 3, but still:

HP 13+3 = 16
TOP threshold 4
TOP save 4
Knockback Threshold (tiny) 5
Reach modifier -2

Fortunately, Pixie-Faeries also get a whopping +8 bonus to defense, +8 saves against magic, and much faster healing.

Now, time for Mage things. A 1st level mage gets 140 spell points, +2 initative (which is bad, remember), and four spells to start with. The four spells are divided as two Apprentice spells, one Journeyman spell, and one First Level spell. Apprentice and Journeymen are, effectively, two levels of cantrips.

Mages get to memorize one spell of each level. Casting a memorized spell costs (10*level + 40) spell points, but doesn't unmemorize it, so you can fire it multiple times, as with 5e. Casting a non-memorized spell is perfectly possible, but costs twice as much. Apprentice and Journeyman spells cost 30 and 40 points respectively, but still have to be memorized or cost double points.

Oh, and, remember how this was based on 1e? We have to roll our spells. We can, however, spend 1 BP for a reroll on any one.

First Apprentice, 7: Jolt. 1s, touch, instant, physical negates. Gives the target a static shock which does no damage, but makes them drop anything they're holding. When we're a fast-moving fairy who hangs out with a Gnome Titan, this is remarkably useful.
Second Apprentice, 1: Amplify Illumination. 1s, 1 light source in 1 foot, 10 minutes, (+1 SP/minute, 15 SP/extra 50% radius). Exactly what it sounds like; makes a torch's radius larger by 50%. Unfortunately, it only works on physical torches, and we're probably not going to use one of those.. because we are one. Pixie Faeries have a natural glow. Unless we were to set ourselves on fire, this doesn't help so much.
Journeyman, 1: Audible Glamor. (1s, 90', 2min, +1SP/foot range 10SP/minute dur). Creates a sound up to 90' away which can sound like anything we like, although it needs to be something we've heard or a language we understand.
First Level, 7: Scorch. (1s, 10', 10x10' area, dodge half, 10SP/+1 damage max 6). Oh yea. Area effect attacks out of the gate. Anyone in the area takes 1d3p+6 damage, and potentially catches fire if they're silly enough to be wearing flammable clothing.

The Mage section is kind enough to actually point out that pixie-faerie mages have spellbooks so small they're 1/8 regular size and require a magnifying glass for anyone not a faerie to read.

So, how do we cast spells? It's a multi-step process. First of all, we need to get out any components we need. Just like D&D, it's having components available is handwaved as long as they aren't assigned a value; unlike D&D, it takes an actual action to get them out before casting the spell, which takes d4p ticks. Yes, that's an exploding d4, so you can easily end up spending ages getting them out if you roll badly.

Next step is actually casting the spell. Most spells only take 1 tick to cast, but they only go off after that period. In that critical moment, the mage's defense goes down to d8p. After casting the spell, the mage then suffers from spell fatigue for 5 seconds plus the casting time of the spell: in this period, the mage gets -6 to defense, can't attack, has a 30% penalty to skill rolls, and moves and does everything else at half speed. Oddly, the rules do not specifically state that another spell cannot be cast in this time, but I guess it makes a certain amount of sense that they couldn't. Presumably, this is how we make sure that mages do actually need people defending them.

Going with the theme of opposed d20 rolls, if a spell has a saving throw the enemy rolls a d20 and adds their level plus their save modifier, and the mage rolls a d20 and adds their level to set the difficulty of the save. However, the GMG throws in an interesting mechanic: the same result with different modifiers is used to determine if there's a spell mishap or not. The spell mishap roll is made by adding the caster's INT, the save roll is made by adding the caster's level.

Unfortunately the spell mishap calculations get.. remarkably complicated. The GM has to calculate the spell mishap threshold based on the level of the spell, whether it was "amped up", whether the caster is wearing armor and using a shield or not, and whether the caster got hit during the casting process, with a cap on the result determined by the spell level. The way it's written means that most of the time, as long as the caster isn't wearing armor and is casting unamped spells, there's no chance of a mishap, so mages aren't completely useless.

Regarding "amping up" spells: you'll notice above that some of the spells we got have schedules for increasing their parameters by spending extra spell points. That's amping up a spell. A spell is amped-up if you use any of these, or "over-amped" if you use so many that you are spending more spell points on the extras than on the spell. Either of these dramatically pushes up the chance of a spell mishap, as does getting hit.

If a mishap occurs, there's a range of penalties that can apply. The simplest is that the spell gets lost. The second simplest, but less serious, is that the spell casts without any of the amping applied, but all the spell points are still lost. Fail by more than that and you get to roll on one of the 10 (!) spell mishap tables, which are typical wild magic things. The 10 tables are levels of severity, and the cap based on spell level I mentioned above applies to which table you can end up rolling on, so it's very very unlikely that you'll cast Detect Magic and end up accidentally blowing the whole party to bits (I only mentioned that because I recall it could happen in one of the Warhammer games).

So, highlights from the tables: at low levels, you can get hit with a cartoon explosion ("casting is stunned for 3d4p seconds and face is black with soot"), all kinds of things can change colour, and you can, um.. "become sexually aroused for d4 hours". Nice. Mid level results tend to apply status sicknesses, such as ability score loss, permanent thought, random shaking or lethargy. The highest level will basically destroy the character, with entries like "caster permanently transformed into a Rhesus monkey", "character may never regain spell points", and "caster explodes and deals 5d12p damage in 30' radius".

So, suppose we'd decided to Scorch the ass of Mr Goblin from the last example. Scorch is a 1st level spell. It costs 50 spell points to cast. We spend the points and roll a d20, getting a 14. That means we have a 30 on our mishap check and a 15 as the difficulty of the save. Assuming we aren't doing anything silly like wearing armor, the Volatility Rating (yes, that's a thing) for a 1st level spell is 3, giving a target value of 14; with INT 16 we couldn't have failed. The goblin rolls a 2 on his Dodge save, which he has a +4 too, so he has a 6 - he fails to save. Damaging spells ignore all damage reduction, so we hit the goblin with d3p+6 damage - 8 damage. Since he has 22 hit points as per the previous example, this is just below the threshold to give the goblin a ToP save, which means our dear faerie (who we shall call Emilie Guessfritz because of course we will) is in danger of getting swatted out of the sky unless someone can get in the goblin's way pretty fast. So, yep, a solo mage isn't going to be going far in this game, at least not at low level. At high level.. well, they get pretty ridiculous as usual, but the books calls this out as the 1e/2e "struggle early, reward later" tradeoff.

The rest of the gang

posted by hyphz Original SA post

HackMaster, 8: The rest of the gang

So, having made a Fighter and a Mage, let's take a look at the remaining character class options. First of all, let's tackle one of the big ones: the Cleric .

The Cleric is a "big one" because they get an entire chapter of the book. And why's that? Because they get to pick a religion, and which religion they are can have a dramatic effect on what abilities they get. Fortunately all the religions presented are fictional (I'm sure there was an old Indie rpg, called The Quest or something like that, which actually let you choose a real-life religion and specified what powers you got for that. Yea. If you chose Christianity you even got to pick a denomination, although you didn't get that option for anything else, which is a shame as it would have been interesting to see how they differentiated some of them..)

Clerics have progression bonuses in Attack and Initiative, although much slower than the fighting classes. They can buy weapon proficiencies and even weapon specializations, but at a higher cost than martials and only in the weapons favored by their faith. Naturally, they're spellcasters, but they have a bunch of restrictions compared to mages; they don't get spell points, they don't get to "amp up" spells, and they get one spell per level per day . Ever. That's it. And they have to choose it in advance. They do still get bonus spells for Wisdom, but at most one bonus per spell level; having a higher Wisdom just increases the range of spell levels at which the bonuses are available. On the plus side, since cleric spells are granted by gods instead of depending on the caster's own concentrations, they're a lot more resilient; they aren't lost if the cleric gets hit out of the casting and there's no spell fatigue. As in D&D, clerics get holy symbols; unlike D&D, if a holy symbol gets lost it's a big deal and you can't just buy a new one from the equipment list. No, you have to get your ass over to the local church and explain how you managed to get your holy symbol lost or smashed. There's also a note that says that the level of an adventuring cleric doesn't represent their advancement within the Church itself, because they aren't primarily looking after and nurturing the faithful.

So, on to the actual religions!

The Cathedral of Light is the religion to pick if you want to be a classic D&D cleric. They revere light as a symbol of good, their power is to turn the undead, and their favored weapon is the mace. You can probably guess the rest of the religious tenets, too.

The Courts of Justice is where classic Paladins come from. As well as turning undead (although without the bonus that Light gets), they get to detect evil and resist trickery, and their deal is that they believe in following the law (provided the laws are just, of course, you don't get that silly thing where an evil dictator can have Paladins because even if the law is his whim it is still technically the law)

The Church of Everlasting Hope are all about healing. They do get a weapon - in fact they get two, a crushing weapon and a sling - and as well as turning undead, they are immune to fear and have a radiant aura that makes others immune to fear. However, they also can't finish off downed foes nor ignore a surrender, even if they believe they're being fooled.

The Temple of the Stars worship The Traveler. Guess what they like to do? Travelling around is actually a requirement for regular priests to advance, although it's implied that an adventurer will be doing enough travelling to meet that requirement anyway. They are happy to fight evil insofar as it threatens people's ability to move around. They are the first religion that don't get to turn undead; instead they are immune to disease (thus eliminating the main reason for medieval folks to fear foreign movement - nice!) and can specialize with the staff. More important is that they get a whole bunch of free skills and talents related to travelling around, and it's mentioned they're often invited on caravans; not just for their deity's blessing, but because they really know what they're doing.

The Temple of the Patient Arrow is the first version of the druid. Yep, that's why there's no Druid class; they're just Clerics. These ones aren't the classic Druid, though; they're all about hunting and associated virtues of patience, thoughtfulness, and respectful interaction with nature (they teach how to hunt without damaging populations and to kill with minimum suffering for the animal) They get to use hunting weapons, especially ranged ones; get a bunch of hunting skills. Sounds like a Ranger so far? Well, true, but they also get to shapeshift! The snag is, they can only shapeshift into a hunting animal (such as a hawk, wolf, or bear) and they can't turn back until they've made a kill in the way their animal naturally would, then sacrificed the kill to the Great Huntress. It's mentioned that if you want to handwave this, it takes d4p days . Yea, that'd be fun to use in the middle of a dungeon..

The Face of the Free is, well, the "freedom" religion. Chaotic Good, overthrowing oppression, and so on. It is mentioned that they generally don't attempt to instigate complete overthrows of oppressive governments from inside their cities, but instead focus on celebrating what freedom is available; this keeps their followers safe, but does mean that they aren't necessarily that good at actually freeing people. They can use any weapon they want, and their power is Freedom of Action , which is basically Freedom of Movement from D&D except it's always on.

The Order of Thought believe in wisdom, thought, and education. Their main function is to wear super heavy armor, keep enemies away with a polearm, and give out advice; all their bonuses are to do with buying up skills, especially Wisdom skills, to huge levels and learning ridiculous numbers of languages. As you'd expect, their spells have a heavy slant to sense and divination.

The Coventicle of the Great Tree are the druid druids as opposed to the ranger druids. You know the deal, wisdom of nature yadda yadda, animal related skills, similar hunting-themed weapons, and full shapeshifting with none of that silly "you have to make a kill" business; you can turn back whenever you want. Levelling up increases the range of animals available and also lowers the time taken to complete the shift.

The Church of Chance are the thiefy clerics who worship the trickster god Risk. Unlike other clerics, they get thief-like progression in initiative and skills, as well as the Luck point mechanic directly cribbed off the Thief class (which we'll cover when we get to actual thieves). And because of the whole "trickster god" thing, their skill bonuses each level and their spell selection each day are rolled randomly.

The House of Shackles are the classic D&D evil clerics. They seek to take over the world for the Overlord and enslave anyone who won't willingly serve. As with the Cathedral of Light, they get to use blunt weapons and can command the undead instead of turning them.

The Order of Agony are the much darker version of evil clerics. I'll quote Saving Stone on this one:

Jonny Nexus posted:

Draag was not a stranger to pain. No follower of his dark and twisted religion was. To them, pain was the great revealer, a lubricant that loosened lies and revealed the truth that lay beneath. Pain bought an understanding of the universe and of one's place within it. It stripped away the comforting beliefs that men held close and in its fiery embrace, forged a deeper awareness of existence's true nature. To be subjected to pain was to have one's soul revealed. Thing was though, it was usually the poor bastards they were ritually torturing that were experiencing the pain, and not them.

They get some weapon proficiencies and a whole bunch of bonuses to the Torture skill.

The House of Knives are the evil thiefy clerics, aka the assassiny clerics. They basically get a bunch of toned-down stuff lifted from the Assassin class.

The Coventicle of Affliction are priests who seek to spread disease. Every priest must be infected with a deadly infectious disease, and they believe that once everyone is diseased, the faithful will be able to rise to power. In practice, most of the priests are people who were infected with deadly diseases anyway and either wanted revenge, or wrongly/desperately thought the order could provide a cure. Their abilities are kind of a mess; they can command undead and have a deadly touch which inflicts armor-ignoring damage, but doesn't actually pass on a disease.

The Temple of Strife are the evil version of the Church of Chance; their goal is to spread mis fortune as far as possible, and if they find anyone who seems to be overly lucky, to grab them and ritually sacrifice them. As with most of the evil religions they obviously aren't meant to be played as PCs and it's most obvious with strife since their main power is to shut down the use of Luck points, a PC mechanic that's granted to Thieves and Rogues and similar classes.

Trying to give a list of all the spells would probably take rather a while, so let's mention the all-time favorite Cleric mechanic: healing. The bad news is, there's no special rules for healing. You get one spell per level and if that spell is a healing spell then, well, that's your spell for that level gone. The good news is that since this is HackMaster, spell levels match up exactly to character levels, meaning that you potentially get one spell from each level 1-20 and every one of those levels has a healing spell. 20 healing spells? Yes, and you can probably guess how they're named...

Cure Trifling Wounds, Cure Trivial Wounds, Cure Minor Wounds, Cure Small Wounds, Cure Light Wounds, Cure Lesser Wounds, Cure Middling Wounds, Cure Moderate Wounds, Cure Medium Wounds, Cure Intermediate Wounds, Cure Serious Wounds, Cure Large Wounds, Cure Considerable Wounds, Cure Substantial Wounds, Cure Heavy Wounds, Cure Severe Wounds, Cure Extensive Wounds, Cure Terrible Wounds, Cure Extreme Wounds, Cure Massive Wounds, Cure Great Wounds.

Fortunately, the joke isn't taken any further than that: these names are just listed in a 20-level table listing the amount each spell heals (and the time it takes , which increases for the higher spells). Further, followers of the same god as the Cleric benefit from extra healing.

So, for next time.. we'll look at the sneakers and skillmonkies.

Sneaking and Skilling

posted by hyphz Original SA post

Yes, his 5e comments suggest that he somehow got seriously burned.

And, oh god, I remember the 2e backstab. You had to be directly behind the opponent, in melee, and they had to have no idea you were there or that a fight was going on. This basically meant you hardly ever got it, and if you did get it and it didn't kill the enemy you were dead because you by definition had no support.

And on the Rogue topic..

Hackmaster, 9: Sneaking and Skilling

Hackmaster has 3 skill/stealth type character classes: the Rogue , the Thief , and the Assassin .

The Thief is the Rogue type from most games - focusing on stealth and fast movement. Like fighters, they advance Attack and Initiative, but not Speed - so they move just as fast but don't get to use their weapon more quickly. They also have a unique bonus which allows them to shift their initative dice . So, for example, if it's a regular encounter and you'd roll a d12 initiative, a thief can drop this to a d10 (remember that lower is better). While this sounds OK to start with, it has the problem that it's cancelled out by wearing armor - anything heavier than the lightest armors will negate the benefit at all but the highest levels - and doesn't always offer a benefit anyway.

And we have, oh look, Backstab . Any time the thief hits someone unaware of their presence with a dagger or knife, the dice roll "penetrates" (explodes) on one below the maximum as well. Which is better than it sounds given that the damage dice for these weapons are d4s, so they'll explode half the time. The thief also gets to do this if an opponent flees from combat with a thief, which is more concrete than the normal backstab rule, but still has the problem that it isn't going to happen all that much. Thieves also get a bonus to the frequency of a Near Perfect Defense (in other words, they can counter-attack when attacked more often) and can kill helpless foes in 3 seconds instead of 10.

You can probably guess the weapon and armor proficiencies and specialization rules - daggers, knives, light armor, lots of bonuses for upgrading these, no bonuses or small penalties for doing anything else. Let's get on to something more interesting: luck.

Every level, a thief gets Luck Points equal to their level plus 20. They aren't recovered until the thief levels up and they aren't carried over between levels. A luck point can increase or decrease the roll on the thief's saving throw by 1, subtract 5% from a skill roll (making it better, because skills are roll-under), or lower an opponent's attack or damage roll by 1. You can spend as many points as you like on a single roll. Notice that you can't use them to increase your own combat rolls, and the book states that this is because luck is supposed to represents your ability to get out of scrapes unharmed; this is presumably to avoid a situation where a thief character ends up depending on spending luck points to successfully attack and thus has a time limit for levelling enforced by their points running out.

Thieves also get Core Skills , a mechanic that's shared across all three of the skill-based classes. It's basically just the 4e/5e skill choices: your class gives you a set of core skills; each level, you pick some number of them (four in the case of a thief), and get a free purchase in those four. That's additional to the BP you get for leveling and the ability to raise your skills by spending them. There's also the risk of rolling low on that danged Mastery die, and there's some limitation on that: when raising the thief skills, your modifier to the mastery die is capped at a minimum of +3. While a clever idea, this does have the slight problem that it potentially allows a low-level thief to minimize the attributes a thief would traditionally have and suffer no penalty to his skills for doing so.

The Rogue is a con-man, essentially. Focused much more on Charisma and trickery than Dexterity and other badness. That said, they do get a lot of stuff from the Thief: they get the same bonus to initiative, a bonus to initiative dice (although it accrues more slowly than for the Thief), Backstab, and backstabbing of fleeing opponents. They also get luck points and core skills, although their core skills are different and they get 24 base luck points instead of 20. Unlike the thief, they don't get any weapon proficiencies and their weapon specializations are much more expensive (8 points each).

They get a few unique things as well. First of all, they can Influence people. This is pretty much exactly the 4e Diplomacy skill, but as a class ability. If the Rogue can do something - talking, dancing, playing music, etc - that might affect an audience's attention, the audience (one person can be an audience) makes a Mental save and if they fail, their reaction level can be moved in either direction. If you're already in a fight and blood has been spilled, you can't talk opponents out of fighting, but you can make them angrier. Honestly, this rule is a bit of a mess. There's no indication as to what the target number for the Mental save is - it doesn't work for it to be a skill roll result, because those are percentile and saving throws are d20. Also, reaction levels aren't actually in the main book - they're in the GMG, and they don't have nice names as they do in 4e. Also, once someone's fighting you, there's no mechanical description of any lower levels; angering them further doesn't actually do anything. Actually, hey, have the Reaction table:

18-: Strangers avoid the character and draw weapons to drive them array. Authority figures seek to arrest.
-13: Strangers avoid the character and prepare weapons but don't use them. Authority figures seek to stop, frisk and question.
-8: NPCs verbally abuse the PCs, but if confronted by force make a morale check to avoid running away.
-3: NPCs make a nasty comment and then ignore the PCs.
+2: NPCs politely excuse themselves.
+7: NPC politely listens and is inclined to help.
+12: NPC listens and offers guidance or help proactively.
+17: NPC becomes a friendly, casual acquaintance.
18+: NPC admires the PC and may become infatuated with them.

So, see, there's going to be a problem in the middle there. If the NPC is verbally abusing the rogue, he can make a use of his Influence ability to.. have them ignore him. Or if they're already ignoring them, Influence makes them excuse themselves. Oops. I suspect this wasn't properly developed, which is a shame.

Another weird mechanic is Knowledge. Here's how this is supposed to work: for any random topic, the Rogue can roll percentile against 3*their level, and if they roll under they know something about it. The GM then adds their level to 100, secretly rolls percentiles and subtracts, and the result read as a percentage is how correct/complete the information is. This ends up having the old problem if "a successful use can turn into a critical failure if the wrong information turns out to have negative consequences for everyone".

And finally, Rogues get.. spells! Oh yea, 5e barding it up in here.. well, ok, they're nowhere near that powerful. In fact, they're a bit rubbish. They don't get any spells until level 3 and then they get one spell level every two levels (remember that in HackMaster there are 20 spell levels and Mages get a spell level every level). They can only learn one spell each level, and they don't actually learn them automatically - they have to find them on adventures, which is problematic, because if you find a scroll on an adventure who are you going to give it to, the dabbler Rogue or the Mage? So the only way they'll get a spell is if the Mage already has it, which probably limits their utility a bit. Rogues cast like mages - including casting time and spell fatigue, which lasts longer for Rogues - but they don't have to study and can only cast a given spell once in 24 hours. The GM's guide has a whole section on how you can roll to see what happens if the rogue does cast a spell more than once in 24 hours, which usually means a wodge of physical damage, an epileptic fit, potential lost points of intelligence, and potential loss of that spell or all spells. So, let's face it, the player isn't going to do it. I have no idea why you'd ever even use this rules unless you don't have a Mage in the party.

Finally, the Assassin . As you'd expect, this is the combat-heavy rogue. They have the same advanced statistics - attack, initiative, and initiative die, although their initiative die advancement is the slowest of all - and they also advance weapon speed, much much more slowly than a fighter. They get fighter-style armor and shield proficiencies and discounted proficiency costs, and also get relatively cheap specializations at 5/6 points. They also get the Backstab, backstab fleeing, and rear strike abilities that everyone's had so far, and an even quicker coup-de-grace (2 seconds). And, they get Core Skills and the +3 minimum cap on the mastery die modifier.

They only have one special ability, but it's an interesting one: they're good at hitting to inflict maximum damage in a single blow. They deduct half their level rounded up from the opponent's TOP threshold. If the TOP save is missed by 5, the enemy is silenced as well as knocked down; at 10, they are unconscious instead of just stunned; and at 15, they are knocked to 0hp and bleeding out. The TOP threshold reduction is essentially a damage bonus which is only applied for TOP purposes, which is interesting as it becomes quite a significant bonus at higher levels.

Next time, we'll get to mop up a few more of the fighting-type classes, including the whole 2! Prestige classes that are in the game.

No, I didn't abandon it

posted by hyphz Original SA post

Hackmaster, 10: No, I didn't abandon it

Back after a bunch of extra hassle and pulling my PC to bits, we are back to look at the remaining fighting classes, and at the one and only one prestige class chain.

The Barbarian in Hackmaster is rather unusual. Unlike every other Barbarian, they can't Rage. But they do still have a d12 hit dice, so there's that for grognards. Essentially, their distinction compared to fighters is that they're really good at learning multiple weapons, but really bad at formally training in them. They can learn new weapons at half cost, and suffer half the penalty when using a weapon they're not proficient with, but their costs for specializations escalate exponentially. Their first level is the same as the fighter, 5BP, but it at least doubles on every level after that. They get a better range of starting Talents and Skills, but at the same time they suffer penalties on social skills, Literacy, and cannot choose the formal training option when they level up.

They also get bonuses to saves against magic.. but they get a built in Magic phobia which forces a morale check at -2 whenever they encounter magic or a magical creature. On a failure, the Barbarian runs and cowers until they see evidence of someone else hurting/killing the creature with regular weapons. Once one is killed, the check goes to -1, and once two are killed it is eliminated - for that particular creature. They also distrust Wizard spells and won't allow them to be cast upon them - but they do believe in the Gods, and will allow a Cleric of the same religion as them to cast spells on them. A Cleric of a different religion is even worse.

So, yea. Barbarians. They're big sacks of hit points and apart from that they're.. kinda poor. I'm not at all sure why you'd play one instead of a Fighter.

Rangers combine an attack/speed/initiative progression similar to the Fighter's with an initiative die progression similar to the Rogue's. They also get a different speed bonus with ranged weapons to with melee weapons; the ranged bonus is better, but the melee one is still pretty good, meaning you're not stuck being an archer forever and being lost as soon as you go into a dungeon. Their weapon proficiencies are half cost and specializations cost 6BP - only one worse than the fighter - but bows and throw weapons come down to only 4BP. They gain a whole bunch of wilderness-related skills at half BP cost. At higher levels they get a rather odd ability - Supernatural Affinity, which gives them 20 spell points, but no spells to cast with them. The idea is that they can use magic items made for Mages that might require the use of Spell Points to activate.

Rangers also suffer from Fatigue more slowly than other fighting classes, as long as they don't wear heavy armor. We haven't mentioned a whole lot about Fatigue yet - it's an optional rule. Any time a character is in a fight, they're in danger of being Fatigued, especially if they take hits (because that hurts). You're immune to fatigue in your first fight of each day, and also in the first 10 seconds of any given fight, and when Surprised. After that, you need to calculate your Fatigue Factor, which is based on Wisdom, Constitution, the armor you wear, your class (fighters and rangers do better), your encumbrance, and how wounded you are. Any time you roll under that on defense, you start to feel fatigue, and suffer a penalty of -1 to attack and defense and +1 to speed. Every subsequent roll under your Fatigue Factor doubles this penalty, and it goes away once you rest for 5 minutes. This is a pretty major difference to be in an optional rule, and it's yet another thing you need to track during fights - or, at least, fights that are anything other than kerb-stomps.

And finally, the two prestige classes - which are both exclusive to Human Fighters. Knight , and Paladin . Becoming a Paladin requires being a Knight first, but you don't have to go through the whole chain; you can stay a Knight until level 20 if you like.

To be a Knight, you have to be a 5th level fighter with appropriate skills for a knight - Etiquette, Riding, Diplomacy, Recruiting, and Resist Persuasion. You must also have proficiency - but not necessarily specialization - in knightly weapons: the lance (no choice about this one), at least one melee weapon, and at least one mounted weapon. Finally, you must actually go find a king or knightly order and join it.

Once you're a Knight you continue progressing in pretty much the same way a fighter did, although specializing in your knightly weapons is now even cheaper, and you get 3 automatic points in the appropriate skills each level - that's a better deal than even the Rogue gets, although 3 percentile points isn't all that much. You also get the same 3 points in the Religion skill, because Knights are always faithful; if you don't have Religion, you get it. Knights are expected to be in Average Honor at all times, to not attack honorable foes in the back or with ranged weapons, and to wear platemail - chainmail is acceptable but results in a loss of Honor since it is improper for their station. The main bonus for this is that the default attitude for anyone interacting with you is deferent, and ranking members of society will often take you in for free. Your hit dice goes up to a d12, tying the barbarian, and you give all your allies within 10' a +4 bonus to morale and to saving throws. Finally, you get Chivalry Points, which are a bit like the Rogue's Luck Points, except they're only usable for Combat and you're expected to use them at "epic moments". The Knight gets 10+level each level, they don't carry over, and they're expected to be in Great Honour to get them at all.

A Paladin is an upgraded Knight; to get it, you have to be a Level 11 Knight - but you also have to serve a religious order with a Lawful Good god, and to have learned that God's preferred weapon. Essentially, it gives you all the same bonuses as being a Knight (but not the chivalry points) plus some Cleric-style religious benefits. You radiate a holy aura which gives a -2 penalty for evil creatures to attack you, you can lay on hands to heal (although only 1 points/level), you're immune to disease, and can turn undead. You can also eventually cast cleric spells, although I'm not sure if someone wasn't smirking when they wrote the sentence "An 18th level Paladin casts spells as a 1st level Cleric."

Before we leave the topic of fighting men, we should talk about that little paragraph that exists at the end of pretty much every character class: the ability to attract followers. Hackmaster actually has rules for this. There are no explicit levels at which followers show up; it's based on your Fame, which will tend to increase with your Honor. Once you're famous enough, your character can announce they're searching for henchmen, and your fame gives a percentile chance for them to show up. The GM is supposed to create 2-3 zero or first-level NPCs via standard character generation, with most choices made randomly but with an eye to ensuring the character is playable and of similar alignment to the PC. The PC is then supposed to play out an interview with the potential henchman, and if they are accepted, they join the party as a second playable character for that PC. Of course, the henchman is allowed to oversell himself in the interview, and if the PC doesn't like what they see on the character sheet they are allowed to fire them immediately.. but at the cost of lowering their honor and making it harder to attract more. The total number of henchmen you can even have is limited based on your Charisma store, so this also uses up one of those slots.

Proteges are a special case of henchmen, and a rule clearly lifted from the pages of KoDT, but quite an interesting one. Essentially, you can take on an NPC as your protege and transfer experience points to them, provided you visit them regularly and train them. They don't have to be the same class as you, as pretty much any class has something to teach another. You can also give your protege loot if you want to, although you aren't guaranteed to get it back on demand. When your PC dies, or you just want to play someone else, you can "activate your protege" and take them over as your player character, at whatever level they reached as a result of your experience point donations. While it sounds fun, it feels a bit like something which ends up doing something that the GM was probably going to do informally anyway, but at a much larger cost.

Next up, multiclassing: or rather, the multiclasses.

My name is irrelevant for my classes are many

posted by hyphz Original SA post

Hackmaster, 11: My name is irrelevant for my classes are many

I am hard-pressed to think of a single fantasy game in which multiclassing isn't either a universally bad idea, or a broken mechanic giving ridiculous results. This especially applies to the various flavors of D&D. 2e had the silly multiclassing which made you advance more slowly at everything than anyone else in the party and made you useless in short order, plus the bizarre dual classing which kicked you back to 1st level in the middle of a campaign (!) until you caught up and suddenly were good at everything again. 3e had the strictly level-slot based multiclassing which resulted in silly front-loaded combinations, 4e had pit fighting clerics, and 5e brings back front-loading again with extra abusability by spellcasting classes.

Hackmaster doesn't technically have multiclassing. It has blended classes , each of which combines two of the other classes together. They're selected at character generation just like any other class, and there's no awkward XP penalties or anything complicated like that.

We start with the Fighter/Mage . As you'd expect, they get an attack bonus that's halfway between the Mage and the Fighter, the same as a bonus to saves vs spells, and slightly worse Speed and Initative modifiers. They start with some weapon proficiencies and can buy them slightly cheaper than a Mage does (but for more than a Fighter does). Their spell progression is interesting: they get their initial spells quite quickly at the first three levels, but then slow down to half speed, meaning they only ever get up to level 10 spells (whereas in Hackmaster the Mage would go all the way up to level 20). They have spell points in the same way as a regular mage, and can use them in all the same ways, but they have less of them.

In what I can only presume is an attempt at trolling, they also have a huge bunch of starting Armor Proficiencies, including Heavy Armor.. and the proviso that they can't cast spells while wearing any of it. Or at least, so it looks from the Player's Guide: the Dungeon Master's Guide shows it isn't actually anywhere near as bad as that. There's only a chance of a mishap, and Fighter/Mages get a substantially reduced chance of it happening, with even less if they're an Elf. So, um, Elves, I guess. Nothing else helps, not even Intelligence, which normally resists spell mishaps. So nobody with any sense is ever going to use that Heavy Armor proficiency, though: you'll get a spell mishap on a roll of less than 12 on a d20, or 14 if you committed the sin of not being an elf. Oh, and while you're enjoying not wearing armor, remember that your Hit Dice is worse than a Fighter's, too, although slightly better than a Mage's (actually, you alternate hit dice every 2 levels. First you get a d8, then a d6, and they swap back and forth.)

So, yea.. typical not-really-very-good Fighter/Mage crossover, really. Loses a lot of the value of fighting and their spellcasting will get less and less useful over time. It's not quite as bad in Hackmaster as it is in some fantasy games (although they stop at level 10 spells, they still get more and more spell points , which can be used to scale up the lower level spell effects), but the general golden rule of "never splash casting" still holds.

The Fighter/Thief I'll deal with quickly, because it's kind of boring. They get very close to the Fighter's initial proficiencies but give up progression in their attack statistics, in exchange for the thief's Core Skill mechanic which gives a limited number of free advances ever level, and luck points. Unfortunately, trading off for skills is a really bad idea because of the Mastery Die system where unlucky/lucky rolls can give you massive skill advantages even if you got a lower number of rolls.

The Mage/Thief , however, has a few more interesting properties. Their attack bonus is terrible, but they get the same Saving Throw vs Spell bonus as the Fighter/Mage, plus a slower version of the Rogue's initiative bonus progression, and the Fighter/Mage's spell and spell point progression. Since they aren't expected to fight and Thieves wouldn't normally be tanks, they aren't so subject to problems with armor - especially since they can cast Illusory Leather Armor and have a temporary armor DR with no penalties to sneaking or spellcasting. Also, they do get both Core Skills and Luck. Their Core Skills are still only thief-type skills, but they do have access to the Arcane Lore skill and their Luck Points can be repurposed to give bonuses to magic skills such as learning spells (although not actual spellcasting).

This means they're quite good for winning initiative and blasting. Using spells for stealth might not be quite as useful - Invisibility is a 6th level spell, which means the blended class doesn't get it until level 12, but Inaudibility is only 3rd level, and makes sneaking much more viable without destroying the value of the skill.

So, the Mage/Thief is by far the most functional of the multiclasses, but ultimately they're likely to have the same problem as multiclasses have in most games: you're probably in a party, the party probably has been designed to cover all the bases, covering two bases with one character doesn't really give much of an advantage.

So, we've now seen most of the standard rules, and assuming we don't want to get into rather boring and tedious lists of character options, the next step is to look at some of the lighter guidance material in the GMG, some of which is actually really good.

Spelling with the Alphabet

posted by hyphz Original SA post

Hackmaster, 12: Spelling with the Alphabet

Rather than going right on to the GMG as I had considered, it strikes me that there is actually one list of stuff that might be interesting: the list of spells. They're unusual for both the effects available and for the effects not available, and some are obviously jokes, whereas some are remarkably useful.

We'll go through mage spells first, mainly because unlike Cleric spells, they're universal; a mage can get any of these spells, although there's random factors involved in learning them.

Amplify Illumination : Makes a torch's radius 50% greater (or more, if amped up) without making it consume any more fuel. Only works on combustion-based light sources, so no stacking with magical light.
Aura of Innocence : For 5 minutes or more, the target can't be associated with any crime, no matter the evidence. Direct eyewitnesses can make a Mental save, otherwise they're not suspected even then. After the duration, though, people can recall the truth and notice that their judgment was interfered with. Hope you're gone.
Buoyancy : Makes a target, animate or otherwise, float on water. If it's already submerged, it rises to the top. If it's a living creature that would rather not rise to the top, it can make a physical save.
Feat of Strength : Lets the target perform one action as if they had 18/00 Strength. They have one minute to do it and it only works for one thing - a single attack or something like lifting a gate or breaking down a door. Uh-oh. It's a "let's let the mage eliminate their class weakness" spell.
Fire Finger : Shoots a 5 foot beam of flame which automatically hits, does 1d3p+2 damage, and can set flammable garments on fire.
Illusory Mural : Creates an illusion of a flat surface with an image on it. If viewed from the side, it becomes obvious it's an illusion; if viewed from the front, the target can use their Painting skill (!) to add perspective to the image to make it convincing and affect the Mental save.
Jolt : We've mentioned this one before: touch a target and if they fail a physical save, they get a static shock and drop anything they're carrying.
Permanent Mark : Dip your finger in some ink and write on a surface with it, and nothing can remove the writing except detaching that part of the surface. If covered up by other paint, the image continues to be visible as magical radiance; you can amp this up to also turn the ink invisible, so that the message is secret and only seen by magical detection.
Phantom Irritation : If they fail a mental save, the target is convinced something is itching at them, and takes -2 to attack rolls.
Repair : The typical Mend spell.
Repel : The typical Push spell which moves objects around by amounts depending on their size. The general rule is that a 100 pound object moves 1 foot and the two value continue in inverse proportion, but the book also mentions that if you want ridiculous detail, you can assume it inflicts 450 Newtons of force and go do your vector mechanics.
Springing : The "jump really high" spell. 10 foot standing, 20 foot forward, 30 foot with a run-up.

Audible Clamor : The audio illusion spell. Up to 90' away, any sound you've heard, and you only need to concentrate on it if the sound is complex and continuously changing (like conversation or music).
Aura of Protection : Oh look, it's Protection from Evil, but for mages. Target is surrounded with a barrier through which supernatural evil creatures cannot pass physically, and gives a penalty to their ranged attacks and spells. However, the target also can't attack such a creature or cast harmful spells on it, and doing so ends the spell.
Bar Portal : Slams a door shut and holds it shut, requiring a Feat of Strength (the action type, not specifically the spell) to open.
Candlelight : Makes a little magical light with a 15' radius. You can't move it freely, but you can cast it on the end of an object so it moves with the object.
Enrage : Target makes a saving throw or rushes at the caster to attack him (or anyone protecting him) in melee, using ranged weapons only if unable to due to an obstacle. The components are "rude words, rude gestures, and a bit of snot or phlegm".
Freeze Water : Does this that. Freezes a cubic foot of water over a period of a minute. Once frozen, physics comes back into play, so the water can melt if the ambient temperature would cause it to. Can also freeze other liquids that contain water, "especially daquiris".
Perimeter Alarm : Creates a 10' invisible hemisphere which, if contacted, sets off a loud alarm waking everyone in a 300' radius. The caster can choose a password to allow someone to pass through, but otherwise the spell can't discriminate, and extremely small creatures (less than 3' in height) don't set the alarm off (so I guess you could get away with a snake). I really hate this classic Heartbreaker spell, because it completely screws over rogues - although at least the password aspect makes it better than the D&D 5e version where you can just name specific individuals, making it utterly impossible to foil the spell in any way. No, I'm not bitter, why would you ask?
Remote Audio Link : Lets the caster communicate with someone if they move up to 200' away for 5 minutes, unaffected by obstacles in the way or surrounding noise. The caster can also, at the cost of concentration taking up their actions, turn themselves into an access point and connect multiple other people together in the same way.
Sense Magical Aura : Detect Magic. Detects the power of magic effects, and you can spend extra spell points for a chance of working out the type of magic, although it's expensive (100 SP per 10% chance)
Tireless Run : Lets the target creature run for 4 hours without suffering tiredness, then they collpase in a heap. The material component is "a tonic of water, fruit juice, and ground ginger".
Virtual Mount : Mount, only instead of summoning an actual horse, it creates a magical force that looks and acts like one, but is emotionless.
Yudder's Whistle of Hell's Gate : Blow a dog whistle, and it acts.. like a dog whistle, only on every kind of animal, dire animal, or dog/wolf monster variant. They make mental saves or run away.

First Level
Bash Door : Instantly smashes open any door that isn't Wizard Locked . Sucks to be you, Feat of Strength guy.
Bird's Eye View : Toss a bird's eye into the air and you can spend up to an hour looking down on yourself and the surrounding area from 100' above. You are still actually there, only your vision moves. Your vision can still be obstructed and doesn't become any clearer, so it can be hard to see detail. Also, if the mage is afraid of heights, this triggers a trauma check.
Doze : Oh look, it's Sleep from D&D. The "affects a HP total" version. But with a major nerf: if the target isn't in a resting position - in other words if it collapses to the ground - it wakes itself and suffers temporary disorientation instead.
Magic Shield : Gives you a shield which acts like a regular medium shield except it can only take up to 18 points of damage, can't be destroyed, and gives no encumbrance or spell mishap chance. The only snag is, it only lasts 1 minute unless you spend SP to lengthen it, but still, this is a pretty good boon, especially for blended mages.
Pepper Spray : Acts like, well, pepper spray. Creates a stream of liquid from your finger which you can shoot into an enemy's eyes to give them major attack and defense penalties for 5d4p seconds.
Planar Servant : A ghostly servant appears and does what you tell it. It can't do anything sophisticated or fight and has low strength, and leaves instantly if gets hit.
Scorch : The basic low level fireball. Throw a 10' radius fireball next to you which inflicts 1d3p+6 damage and sets flammable clothing on fire.
Shift Blame : When there's some act that's making people angry, point at someone else, say they did it, and spend the material component (a dab of tar and a feather) and everyone who doesn't make a save blames them. Even after the spell ends, it will probably take compelling evidence to make people change their minds about who did it, because people are like that. Straight out of KoDT, but actually kind of nifty anyway.
Shrink : Another D&D staple. It does pretty much the same as shrinking does in every other Heartbreaker.
Throw Voice : Makes your voice seem to come from somewhere else. Realizing it's really you speaking requires a mental save with a difficulty based on how reasonable it is that your voice is coming from the other direction.
Translate : It's Comprehend Languages . Next.
Wall Walk : It's Spider Climb , except the caster climbs, I quote: "with feet flat on the wall and his body horizontal to the ground, ala Adam West's Batman." Next.

Second Level
Charm : Yes, it's charm , but the target only gets a save every 21 days , minus a number of days equal to their intelligence. It also emphasis that "although the charmed individual believes the caster to be a dear friend, he is not his bitch".
Chilling Touch : Touch attack the opponent and they have to make a save or take 1d4 damage and lose a point of Strength.
Conjure Warrior Avatar : The caster collapses and a warrior of the mage's race appears, under the mage's control. Its combat abilities are high but not over-the-top for the level (attack is +2), and it will disappear if it hasn't fought anything in 30 seconds.
Disguise : It's Disguise Self .
Frighten : It's Fear , although it's specific about what the fear is: the target believes that the caster is whatever they're most scared of and that it's chasing them. The caster has to move towards the target for 1' to start the spell, then the illusion takes over.
Illusory Leather Armor : We mentioned this earlier. It's like Magic Shield , but it's leather armor, and it's weaker - it can only absorb 10 points of damage; also, you can't wear other armor at the same time, so it's a boon for blended classes.
Magic Projectile : Oh, I wonder what spell this is. But being level 2 instead of level 1/cantrip, you can spend extra SP for extra missiles, on the same target or another, and ignore all damage reduction.
Perspecillium : look through any sort of hollow tube and it becomes a 50x effective distance scope.
Shocking Touch : Touch someone for 1d8p damage. The somatic component is to "walk in place dragging your feet along the floor".
Slippery Surface : It's Grease , but with slightly nastier save requirements.
Smoke Screen : It's Obscuring Mist but with a greater choice of what shape it is.
Torchlight : Like Candlelight , but the light is equivalent to a torch instead of a candle.

Third Level
Bedazzle : create a cone of light which blinds creatures, behaving based on hit points totals in the same way Sleep does.
Cheetah Speed : lets a creature move three times the speed and apply -2 to initiative, but nothing else they do becomes faster.
Flaming Missiles : touch up to 5 ordinary physical missiles in the following minute and they catch fire, dealing an extra 1d3p damage and settings things on fire. If not fired the missile consumes itself in 10 seconds and small ammo can't be handled while it's burning, so ordinary arrows need to already be loaded.
Ice Knife : conjure a knife to throw or use in melee which deals Cold damage. If thrown into a solid object, it explodes into a shower of ice which delivers a 5' radius AOE attack. If thrown directly at an enemy it deals extra damage to then and then explodes in the same way. You can use it as a melee weapon if you want, but then you'll be in range when it explodes unless you get rid of it. And you need to be wearing leather gloves or holding the knife chills your hands.
Pyrotechnic Display : Cast on an open fire to either produce a shower of blinding sparks or a plume of smoke which blocks view and chokes opponents.
Rope Charm . It's Rope Trick . Lalala.
Unlock : Spend 30 silver pieces making a key and 70 spell points to make target thief redundant.
Veil of Darkness : It's Darkness .
White Hot Metal : It's Heat Metal .
Withstand Fire : Gives resistance to fire, although it's an awkward one; a total DR of 6 that refreshes only every 10 seconds. Possibly a lot of extra bookkeeping involved.
Wizard's Lock : Spend 70 spell points to make target enemy thief useless. As with Perimeter Alarm , you must use a password if you want anyone other than yourself to be able to open it.

Fourth Level
Bottomless Pouch : Cast on a regular pouch and it gains a capacity of 5 cubic feet and weighs only 10% of what it's supposed to. Items must still fit into the throat of the pouch and the spell has to be refreshed every 12 hours or the stored items reappear normally inside the pouch and tear it to bits.
Enfeeble : Drops an opponent to Strength 3/01 if they fail a dodge save.
Fracture Object : Cracks an object so that it breaks the next time it is used or otherwise relevant. It can only be an object up to 10 pounds and not magical, so it won't work on suits of armor, although it can work on potion vials (ouch!).
Light Sleep : A more powerful version of Doze .
Magic Projectile of Skewering : Another spell straight out of KoDT (although KoDT got away with referring to "magic missile"). It's like a regular magic missile except it blasts through enemies, with an optional turn of up to 45 degrees each time it hits someone.
Lesser Memory Wipe : Everyone in a 20' cube must make a mental save or forget the last minute. Spells are not cancelled, but casters can forget that the spell is active and not take advantage of it.
Motion Blur : It's Blur from D&D, except it only works if the defender is actually moving on their own.
Prerecorded Audio Message : Leave an audio message attached to any object which is activated by an event of your choice at the time you cast it. The event can be programmed to almost any complexity and the message can be any noise you can make; you can include others if you want to.
Reveal Secret Portal : It's the spell that detects secret doors.
Skipping Betty Fireball : A 2' fireball which bounces along the ground, 20-30 feet between each bounce. It can't bounce a shorter range than that, so it won't work on targets that are on the ground nearby. The caster can choose the bounce distance between 20-30 metres and turn the fireball by 45' a second. Unfortunately, if the ball hits a wall, it bounces off and starts gimbaling, meaning the mage can no longer control it and it'll continue based on pure uncaring physics. The default duration is 10 skips . Ow.
Shadowskin : Turns the target into a shadowy black shape which can easily hide in the dark.
Transmogrify : It's Polymorph Self . The mage keeps their own Strength and Hit Points, but can use the new form's attack routines. Also, in one of the more sadistic changes, the GM rolls the duration of the spell randomly (3d4p+6 minutes) and the mage is stuck with it - the spell can't be ended early.

Fifth Level
Copycat : It's Mirror Image .
Disembodied Floating Hand : Mage Hand with a twist - the mage's actual physical hand detaches! This does mean it doesn't require concentration to move the hand around, because it still acts like it's connected. Damaging the hand affects the caster's HP but does not automatically mutilate the hand: if the hand can't be reattached within 5 minutes afterwards then, well, you've lost your hand.
Entrancing Lightshow : It's Hypnotic Pattern except to use it you have to spin a "small mirrored ball" and the saving throw becomes stronger if you have a musician playing at the same time.
Heat Seeking Fist of Thunder : Zooms towards the nearest heat source (which must be at least as large as a torch) and does damage in a 20' area, also destroying the heat source.
Levitation : Same as every other levitation spell.
Massive Smoke Screen : A more powerful version of, well, you can guess.
Munz's Bolt of Acid : Surprisingly, this is not just Melf's Acid Arrow . You have to cast it on an actual crossbow bolt and if it hits, the target actually has a wound impregnated with strong acid, dealing 2d4p extra damage and then d4p every 5 seconds, counted as a single worsening wound for massive damage calculations.
Panic : It's another fear variant: everyone nearby saves or runs away, or takes -2 if forced to fight.
Sense Invisible Beings : It's See Invisible but it only works for creatures. It doesn't actually grant sight, just a psychic sense of where things are, and it doesn't require magical invisibility - so someone hiding in the darkness is also detected. Target rogue throws target book against target wall.
Summoning 1 : Basically a joke. Summon a "small, innocuous animal" which you have no control over. The material component is.. a black top hat. Yup.

Higher levels to come!

Higher power spells

posted by hyphz Original SA post

Hackmaster, 13: Higher power spells

Sixth Level
Boost Strength : Gives the target d6 extra strength for 3 hours.
Find Item : Gives the crow-flies direction that a particular object is in, provided the mage has an image of it. Only works on objects rather than people, but you can find a person by finding their clothes. Beardy.
Flame Ball : Like Flaming Sphere from D&D, but you have to provide a lump of coal to act as the core. Dumping water on it immediately puts it out.
Immunity to Apprentice Magic : As the name applies, makes the target immune to Apprentice level spells and allows them to dismiss ongoing enchantments with an opposed check.
Inflict Temporary Blindness : Typical blindness spell, but with a note that the condition inflicted is psychosomatic (ie, the target's eyes still work, their brain just can't process the result) meaning that it can't be healed in the normal way.
Invisibility : Classic D&D Invisibility which is ended by an attack or spell.
Mind Reading : Listen in to a single target's thoughts. You can spend some time at the start of the spell sweeping for the correct target in a group, but can only listen properly to one target's thoughts at a time. The description does mention that most intelligent creatures know about this and will realize what it is ("Why is that dude just staring at me? Oh s#^! Pink Elephants! Pink Elephants!")
Stink Bomb : It's Stinking Cloud except you set it off by throwing a tiny pellet which triggers the cloud where it strikes a solid object. Oh, and the material component is the caster's faeces. Mmm.
Telepathic Mute : Disables all telepathy or mental command/control abilities of the target if they fail a save, including incidental mental control granted by spells. Nice idea.
Viscous Webbing : Hey, it's Web .

Seventh Level
Bash Face : Lets the mage smash a target in the face remotely for 4d6p damage, but requiring a regular attack roll - but bypassing any shield.
Clairnosmia : Ha ha, it's like Clairvoyance except it's for scent instead of vision. It doesn't make your sense of smell any better, so I suspect this won't be useful.
Conjure Warrior Avatar 2 : Like the original Conjure Warrior Avatar , but it's a bit more powerful - although, thank goodness, not as powerful as a fighter PC of the same level.
Cutaneous Aspiration : Um, yea. Ok, so this is really meant for breathing water. It makes your skin gas-permeable, so you can breathe by absorbing oxygen in water through your skin. Unfortunately, it also gives you a whopping penalty to saves against dangerous gasses. You can cast this on an unwilling target, but they get a physical save.
Grounding : Stick a copper rod in the ground and it becomes a perfect earth, negating any electrical effects in the area for a limited time.
Icy Blast : Hey, Cone of Cold . Missed you.
Induce Fratricide : If target fails a save, it spends the spell's duration whaling on the nearest living creature of any kind in melee with the Aggressive Attack move. So, hmm. Kinda like Insanity but without the uncertainty.
Induce Nervousness : If the targets fail a save, they get knocked back to Nervous level morale. This is a common thing with Hackmaster and Kenzer stuff in general: if there's a mechanic in standard use they'll make stuff that affects it. KoDT's monster add-ons for Hackmaster featured monsters whose attacks were to eat the PC's provisions or destroy their dungeon map.
Low Light Vision : Gives anyone low light vision, like a dwarf. Whattya want?
Retard Reaction : Slow , but nastier because it ties into the Hackmaster second-based timing system. Everything takes 3 extra seconds to perform. Ouch.

Eight Level
Clairaudience : Aha, a useful remote spell. Lets you hear things in a remote location.
Exploding Script : Yea, I bet that script is written in runes, too.
Force Fumbles : For the duration of a spell, any time the target misses an attack, it's a critical fumble with a +200 on the fumble result table.
Force Grenade : Throw a stone at a solid object, and when it hits, it explodes for 4d6p damage in a 10' radius which can be dodged for half. If not thrown within 30 seconds, it goes off in the mage's hand.
Illumination : Even better than Torchlight .
Paralysis : It's Hold X except it's based on hit point totals rather than type of creature. Also, the effect is permanent after a single saving throw. Ouch.
Phantom Horse : A bit like Virtual Mount , but the horse can only be ridden by one person (you or someone you name), and the ghostly horse scares away other horses and typical wild predators. You can also spend extra SP to give the horse the ability to walk through mud unimpeded or, for even more, walk on water. Nifty.
Polylingualism : Like Comprehend Languages but lets you hear and talk in the target language, provided you've heard it spoken. Again, nifty. Surprised this hasn't appeared in more games.
Skin of Stone : Oh, come on, they're not even trying now.
Sure Grip Snare : Touch an object and name the people who are allowed to touch it. If anyone else touches it, they must make a dodge saving throw or be snatched up and held upside down five foot off the ground for 60 seconds. Even if they pass their save, they're disoriented for 10 seconds. So, again, let's continue screwing over thieves by creating traps which they can't do anything about because they're maaaagic (tm)

Ninth Level
Clairoptikos : Lets you see remotely. Usual effects, except it does mention that the mage's sight is no better than it normally is (they can't see in the dark), but at the same time there's no physical transmission of gaze effects to the mage (so they can't be harmed by seeing a medusa, or by staring into the sun)
Hasten : Remove the n. Speeds everything up, but rather nasty in that it doesn't help wizards: not only is casting spells not any faster (because it still needs to be done precisely and your thinking doesn't speed up) but wizards under the spell actually have to make a Wisdom check in order to cast properly. Also, afterwards, everyone suffers fatigue.
Infravision : Another heartbreaker classic - and yes, it's actual infrared vision, with temperature dependance and all.
Lightning Bolt : Almost straight out of D&D; fire a lightning bolt hitting anything in the area for 6d6p points of damage. If it hits a wooden door or wall, it destroys it, but the bolt ends there; if it hits a stone wall, it ricochets.
Polymorph to Primate : Turns the target into a random kind of primate based on a table (the list is: "Ring-tailed lemur, baboon, orangutan, spider monkey, howler monkey, gibbon, or tarpier"). Primates can still attack although not all can use weapons (Orangutans can, and actually get a Strength bonus , so this is a risky business) and creatures retain their intelligence and memories, so can still cast spells with a 75% failure chance. The exception is that the last entry on the list, not counted above, is "monkey brain" which leaves the target's body the same but lowers their intelligence to 5/01.
Preemptive Retribution : Ha ha. If any enemy intending to hurt the mage comes within 5', they get an electric shock for 3d6p damage, with no save. However, it only works once.
Summoning 2 : The first sensible summoning spell. Summon 2d4 creatures of EP value less than 67 and control them mentally as you wish.
Resist Fire : Gives 12 points of damage reduction per 10 seconds against Fire. That's going to be fun to track.

Tenth Level
Clairvoyance : Ah, finally, but it's not the same as seeing a remote location. Instead, it just gives you information about whatever you target, obtained from unknown supernatural sources.
Conjure Warrior Avatar 3 : Better still. In fact, getting worryingly good at this point.
Dismiss Enchantment : Hey, it's Dispel Magic . At last.
Fireball : Exactly like the classic Fireball with the note that "it's not an explosion because there is no concussive force" extended with a warning that it will expand until its total area is reached even through passages and other architectural constraints.
Flight : Exactly what it sounds like, with the caveat that spellcasters who're flying must stop and hover while casting.
Ghostform : Turns the mage (and only the mage) incorporeal with the usual caveats, notably that "people who do not know the mage will presume him to be some form of undead; conversely, the undead will not recognize him as a living being and usually ignore his presence".
Induce Fatigue : Gives the targets the same fatigue effect that's given after a Haste, but with no benefits.
Sphere of Invisibility : The classic Invisibility that ends on an attack or spell cast, but for multiple people in an area. The mage can nominate who is affected, but they must still stay within the sphere to remain invisible. If someone attacks, the spell ends for everyone.

Three quarters

posted by hyphz Original SA post

Hackmaster, 14: Three quarters

Have to give a thanks here to System Mastery for the fascinating broadcast on D&D, especially the note that the "3d6 in order" thing wasn't in 1st edition. Even Order of the Stick got that wrong, in that case!

Eleventh Level (yes, it goes up to twenty. Spell levels = character levels!)

Chlorine Gas Cloud : It's Stinking Cloud with a bit more science involved.
Claymore : Thread a string up to 30' across a hallway, and anyone who touches it will set off an explosion dealing 3d10p damage. The spell makes the string hard to see. It can be spotted with Identify Trap, but not disarmed with Disarm Trap - although once you know it's there you can just step over it, so that isn't really necessary. Still another thief downer, though.
Create Pit : Lets you dig a pit at the rate of 25 cubic feet of earth per second. Once a certain amount of Earth is excavated you need to roll a Mining check to see if you know how to safely continue exvacation; if you fail, the pit collapses in on itself, leaving behind a divot. You can also hit an Earth Elemental with it for damage.
Deep Sleep : Doze upgraded again.
Dense Fog : Another clone of Obscuring Mist , but more powerful.
Freezing Drizzle : Creates rain of liquid nitrogen(!) in a 40' diameter area. This inflicts cold burns on anyone in the area, and regular environmental protection doesn't mitigate the damage.
Induce Cowardice : Similar to the previous morale spell; drops everyone in the area to Cowardly morale if they fail a save.
Sarmar's Beacon : Mark a metal item (possibly a coin) and it looks normal to everyone else, but for the wizard who cast the spell, it seems to glow, and they always know where it is as long as it's on the same plane (although only via a vague sense of direction if it's not in actual view). Placing any other enchantment on the item cancels the beacon.

Twelveth Level
Beguile Creature : Ii's Charm Monster .
Gills : A typical Water Breathing spell, only it actually gives the subject gills for 6 hours without any dependence on the caster.
Icewall : Creates a semi-opaque wall of ice. It doesn't do any damage on its own unless it falls on someone, but functions as a reasonable wall.
Icy Fog : Creates 10,000 square feet of Fog which restricts vision and deals damage slowly (1 hp per 5 seconds). It can freeze water, but not to the point it can be walked on.
Quantum Leap : It's Dimension Door , but "the verbal component consists of uttering the Schrodinger equation". Gasp in awe as this implies that the game takes place after 1925.
Sniper's Bane : For d6p minutes, any missile fired at the mage bounces off and attacks the shooter. The attacker rolls a defense roll as if they were the defender and hits themselves if they fail, with the same called shot and/or crit as would have hit the wizard. Wow. Defensive supremacy much?
Somebody's Watching Me : Sweep the area with a copper baton, and if somebody is scrying on you, you get to make a contested check against them. Success means you learn the name of the scryer and the baton swings to point at them. Handy.
Summoning 3 : Like Summoning 2 , but the creatures can be more powerful and the material component is to strike a triangle.

Thirteenth Level
Emergency Teleport at Random : Shout "get me outta here" and you teleport to a completely random part of the world, losing all your clothes and gear in the process, but at least not dead. Well, hopefully not. You can spend extra spell points to ensure you teleport somewhere near human habitation.
Firewall : Ongoing wall of fire which can be passed through, but at the cost of 4d6p fire damage. Convected heat is dampened on the mage's side, but exists on the opposite site affecting those within 10'. If you cast it on top of someone, they can make a dodge save.
Fumble Zone : SImilar effect to previous spells - turns all misses into critical misses if the target fails a save - but works in an area, a 20' cube.
Jumping Juju : Summon a Juju spirit of chance and tell it to curse someone. If the target fails their mental save, they get -4 to every dice roll for 13 seconds. After that time, or if they save, the Juju moves to someone else, possibly including the mage themselves.
Mist of Corraling : Creates a cloud of mist that limits visibility and is also hard to leave. Leaving is a Feat of Strength. The radius can be adjusted by the mage, but the mist can't be used to crush people since it doesn't really have edges.
Toxic Web : Like Web, except that everyone in contact with it must save to see if they get poisoned, giving them a -1 penalty to combat for 2d12 hours. The save can be forced several times and the penalties build; if they get right up to -8, the victim dies. Spiders that can naturally move through web can still be poisoned by it. Interesting. The pattern of "powering up classic spells so they're relevant at all levels" might be a bit of a space filler, but it's a pretty reasonable idea.

Fourteenth Level Spells
Conjure Warrior Avatar 4 : Oh, you know what this does by now. But the avatar's getting pretty strong: +14 to attack.
Fireball Volley : You can throw a Fireball spell once every 10 seconds for the duration of the spell (which by default is 30 seconds). You cannot do anything but walk and throw fireballs, though.
Frost Ray : Ouch. Throw a beam of absolute-zero cold at a target, and they dodge or take 7d12p damage. So it's disintegration but with an element.
Palisade Wall : Creates exactly that, a wooden wall of tree trunks sharpened at the top. It's permanent, but not magical, so it can just be burned down or hacked through.
Stoneslither : For the duration you can pass through stone, brick, and rock. Unfortunately, you can't sense anything while within the material, and to move you have to swim rather than walk. If the spell ends while you're still inside the material, you die instantly.
Word of Deafness : Deafens everyone within a 100' radius.. with no save , but no exception for friends either.

Fifteenth Level Spells
Catatonic State : You might not guess it, but this is another entry in the Doze chain.
Dryicewall : Like Icewall, but the wall is made of frozen Carbon Dioxide. It deals damage when touched and radiates cold, dealing 1d3 damage in range, and is impossible to see through because of frost on its surface. It doesn't disappear magically, but does melt and sublimate.
Freezing Rain : Like Freezing Drizzle , but does more damage. Yes, it's still liquid nitrogen rain, just more of it.
Phosphene Gas Cloud : A stinking cloud that doesn't just stink; it burns both skin and lungs, causing ridiculous damage and hours of incapacitation. Hope your mage is proud of using straight up chemical weapons.
Summoning 4 : You know where this is going. This time you have to blow a bugle.
Third Eye : The caster gets a literal third eye, which cannot be blinded by magic or damage and has infravision and.. well, basically True Seeing .

Sixteenth Level Spells
Brickwall : Yes, creates.. an actual 12" thick brick wall which acts exactly like one, including being rather hard to get through.
Idiocy : If the target fails a save their intelligence is immediately knocked to 3/01 - although things they already know are not forgotten. Still, it's a save-or-die really.
Magic Carpet : Exactly that. Makes a regular carpet into a magic flying one.
Night Fighters : Cast on up to 10 creatures; for the spell duration, they gain Infravision, Inaudibility, and the Blind-Fighting Talent.
Open Crevasse : Immediately opens a 16' by 8', 120' deep crevasse in the ground! It's otherwise nonmagical, but creatures on top of it or nearby can be sucked in and fall to the bottom. Oh, and it's permanent, so you've just damaged the planet.
Spell Magnet : the target, if they fail a save, thereafter becomes the target of any ranged spell cast in a 100' radius unless the caster wins a roll-off with the original caster. If the ranged spell has an area, the target ends up at the centre of the area. Interesting.

Seventeenth Level
Gabal's Permanent Magical Aura : It's that goofy spell from D&D that makes an item appear to be magic when it isn't.
Portable Hole : Like the goofy magic item from classic D&D, except it's a spell that produces one whenever you like. It normally lasts 4 hours, unless it's removed from a surface that it has tunneled through, in which case it's cut to 4 minutes.
Reflective Ward : Like Sniper's Bane , but works for melee too. Screw you, non-casters! They do at least get a save, though.
Transport : Teleport from D&D, complete with the error table.

Eighteenth Level
Conjure Warrior Avatar 5 : Zzzzz.
Mirror Snare : Hold a mirror up to the target; they make a mental save, and if they fail, they're sucked into the mirror and replaced with a duplicate under the mage's control (who also has reflected appearance and handedness). Breaking the mirror or killing the duplicate brings the original target back. Hmm. Good as a plot device. Not sure about a regular spell..
Torrential Fireball : Like the original Fireball , but does much more damage and is twice the size.
Wall of Bronze : Just like all the previous wall spells, but good luck breaking through a wall made of freakin' bronze.

Nineteenth Level
Black Hole : Creates an actual black hole, although only a pin-point sized one. It still sucks anything nearby towards it and utterly obliterates anything that hits it. No save, but creatures can move away to resist the section. And if a Black Hole touches a Portable Hole , everything goes boom and everything is thrown into random planes.
Forcewall : Creates a wall that can't be passed by anything but night. Nothing breaks through, not even magic. The only way through is to go round.
Freezing Downpour : It's like Freezing Rain , but with even more damage.
Thought Probe : Touch a creature, and you can access their memories with no saving throw, asking one question per minute and getting the answer telepathically. The target cannot lie, but their memory might be wrong. Seems a bit situational to need to be this level.

Twentieth Level
Directed Shockwave : Sets of an explosion which leaves stone, earth and debris flying in a 40' area for 3 seconds, dealing damage to anyone in that area.
Nerve Gas Cloud : More chemical weapons. This one is straightforward, though: save or die.
Planar Hole : A longer lasting and larger pulling Black Hole , but instead of destroying what it sucks in, it shifts it to a random plane.
Silver Ball : We have to end with a goofy one. Creates a solid steel ball that deals 8d12p damage if not dodged, and bounces randomly around the environment it's cast in until eight impacts or it goes out of range. The caster is rendered deaf, dumb and blind while the ball is moving, but if it comes towards them, they sense it and can bat it away in a direction of their choice and reset the impact counter. Just in case you hadn't figured it out yet, if the ball goes out of range, a glowing notice reading "TILT" appears in the air...

So, a general theme of either:
- spells from D&D
- spells from D&D with an improved progression over levels
- some neat and original ideas
But still a fair amount of caster supremacy, although remember that mages have more intrinsic limits in HackMaster (casting is an interruptible action that takes time and they're fatigued whenever they cast anything, amongst other things).