Okay, it is time for some honesty folks. Be honest now, because I know a lot of you I include myself in this number are guilty. There is nothing for you to feel shame about. What did Chris just say? Yup, I said hand holding.

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Okay, it is time for some honesty folks. Be honest now, because I know a lot of you I include myself in this number are guilty. There is nothing for you to feel shame about. What did Chris just say?

Yup, I said hand holding. The fine folks at Kenzer want to walk you through becoming a GM in a fashion that assumes you are smart, capable and very new at this. Over and over within the text of this book, they provide insightful and frankly inspiring commentary to guide you on your path from player to GM Overlord of all you survey. If only your first girlfriend or boyfriend had been this gentle and sure of your potential! This is mainly to convey what each section brings to the table and to stress the features present in this tome and their in-game application.

The minute they queued up the slower version of the theme song music, you knew the Brady kids and you were about to learn a life lesson. I have read a LOT of how to be a gamemaster books. While most have several nuggets of truth in them, few if any encompass what being a Gamesmaster is all about. The GameMastering advice section starts gently discussing what it is to be a gamemaster versus a player. It gives a clear and thorough explanation on how to make that leap. It covers several tropes of gamemastering, such as avoiding railroads, winging it, enhancing your table ambiance.

The real gems though are in the discussion of tough table types, something I am personally a fan of. Man oh man, I only wish I had someone to take me aside and say this when I began. I especially would call attention to the bit about Sporadic Attendance. Instructions are given on how to introduce players unfamiliar with gaming, players use to a certain style of RPG or just non-crunch system players to Hackmaster.

I will go on record as saying as of yet, I do not think I have read a how-to GM guide that has so inspired me to run a game as this one has.

I have been playing since and GMing since roughly and this section makes me excited all over again for the hobby.

Chapter 2: Combat The Combat section is broken into small bite size chunks. Each heading covers one topic such as ranged attacks, melee attacks etc and within that section, it covers specific issues revolving around that form of attack. Range attacks, for instance, both physical and magical can be affected by cover or concealment. Just because you duck behind a rock does not mean it is covering your entire body.

The degree of cover determines how hard it is for the attacker to penetrate your defense. On the other hand that rock might protect you from a fireball sent dead on but if it is cast at the side of that rock it provides little to no protection. The folks at Kenzer do not just stop there though.

On top of many situational dilemmas due to the environment, weather and other conditions, they also offer advanced rules. I like that they left it up to us to decide if we want that option added in. Combat information from a GM perspective is given a full explanation. Footing, engaging and disengaging opponents, battling aerial opponents are just some of the topics the authors touch on. They even give a few tactics of common flying monsters as examples to help flesh out GMing such battles.

The biggest chunk of the combat section covers fumble tables and critical tables. Some may be put off by such expansive charts but it is not as complex as it first appears. Each flowchart utilizes a specific weapon type. Hacking, Piercing, Crushing each has tables. You roll results using a d system, which is easily done on a phone app, or by using ten-sided dice for the roll.

Players will learn to fear the crit. That is good, combat is random and unpredictable. To make things easier on the GM, Kenzerco has given flowcharts to help decide outcomes.

This section, however, covers what happens outside the bloody encounters. Environmental perils like drowning, moving in darkness, starvation and extreme hot and cold effects get a full explanation. There is more than one way to kill a character, and in Hackmaster doubly so. The book even discusses arrow arc and how much clearance is necessary to shoot a ranged weapon a significant distance.

Yes, that is right…arrows do not shoot feet in a straight line. Not too shabby. Want to know if smothering that fire makes you choke from smoke inhalation.. Trying to decide what effects carrying on through the night has on players. That is in there too. It adds many optional layers to handling casting. Players can, if they choose, break from convention and risk possible mishap to bolster their magical spell.

The chapter covers the use of: armor and casting You do not have to use robes but it comes with risk the relationship of magic to race for instance elves are less prone to mishaps, which is very Poul Anderson Spell volatility what happens when you try to make a spell more powerful than it normally is.

Sometimes it is purposeful, such as a caravan escort. Other times it is necessary to reach the dungeon or next plot point in the adventure.

Regardless of that, the open road is not without perils or costs. There nothing out of the normal here. Most of the information is pretty dry but necessary. While there they will want to seek further training in the skills they have been working on while adventuring. Players are welcome to try to learn without help but it costs double the amount of BP points to do so. Trainers do not work for free, however, so players will have to pay coin to get that next bit of training. Which makes total sense.

I highly doubt a subject matter expert in this day and age would expect to give their knowledge free. They had to endure time, costs of their own and ordeals to learn what they know and the players will catch no breaks either. Formal training has additional benefits. When players seek advanced training they are able to roll on the training events table.

This can be anything from plot hook events, extra equipment, or multiple boons. In fact, with a few exceptions, the vast majority of outcomes are positive.

Pricing for reselling of equipment, random tables for quick tavern generation and the effects of tavern binging are given flesh here too. Chapter 7: Character Vitals This chapter focuses in on the effects of aging. Group honor and fame are also discussed in decent detail. Your knight might be very honorable but his associates may do things that fall opposite of his desires. While his high honor bolsters the group interactions, his companions deeds reflect poorly on him with folks in his particular social ranking.

As players become known for their deeds it follows them around and this provides a set way to determine what that exact effect is. A few new proficiencies such as Farrier, Butchers, and Masons are given. The GM is also provided a few tips for handling certain quirks and flaws.

It is nice to have limits with clear explanation, and for skills such as Glean Information especially so. Chapter 8: Zero Level Characters I have been a big fan of the zero level idea for a while. Taking the path of Zero to Hero is quite fun and Hackmaster delivers an optional way to facilitate this. Each class has certain zero level restrictions. Clerics even get special guidelines revolving around their ethos.

Hackmaster, since 4th edition is a firm believer in players need for assistance. It is hard to hold a torch and a shield and a sword and be effective the minute combat starts.

Players may want to invest in proteges. A protege or sidekick is kind of like an insurance policy should they die there is a character waiting in the wings for them to play. This is a completely Hackmaster idea, one more reason Hackmaster rises above the competition.

It allows a player to still take part and helps to put a band-aid on the loss of a favorite character. It can be especially hard for the neophyte GM to put together their first adventure. This chapter outlines how to create an adventure from start to finish. It is not that the chapters in this section do not provide innovative ideas. They do a great job of conveying how to handle distribution of treasure.

I just think that this aspect of any RPG is fairly mundane in nature. It is the attention to detail in specific that is continuously maintained throughout this book that sets it apart.

These chapters outline everything from clothing to spices and even perfumes. I especially enjoy the chapter on quality items. Just because a weapon or piece of armor does not glow with magical dweomers does not lessen its effectiveness.

I have always liked the idea Leiber set forth. Greywand was not one 2-handed broadsword it was actually a virtual bevy of different blades. The legend around the blade grew from the user.


HACKMASTER Part 2, One Gamemaster’s Guide to rule them all!

Original electronic Scanned image These products were created by scanning an original printed edition. Most older books are in scanned image format because original digital layout files never existed or were no longer available from the publisher. The result of this OCR process is placed invisibly behind the picture of each scanned page, to allow for text searching. However, any text in a given book set on a graphical background or in handwritten fonts would most likely not be picked up by the OCR software, and is therefore not searchable. Also, a few larger books may be resampled to fit into the system, and may not have this searchable text background. For printed books, we have performed high-resolution scans of an original hardcopy of the book. We essentially digitally re-master the book.



In the Dragon Magazine Archive software was published where Wizards of the Coast failed to get permission to reprint many of the original articles such as the Knights of the Dinner Table comic in the electronic media archive. As a nod to the fictional version from the comic, this first edition of Hackmaster was published as the 4th Edition. Since its release in , HackMaster has evolved into a full-fledged role-playing game, spawning over forty add-ons, supplements and game aids. The Hacklopedia of Beasts, the Hackmaster version of the Monster Manual, was next released as eight separate volumes. The title is a nod to the Dungeons and Dragons Basic Set, although HackMaster Basic was re-written so as to not contain any copyrighted material from Wizard of the Coast.

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