Tuesday, April 10, 2012

H is for HackMaster

Last year I mentioned a few things I liked about the previous edition of HackMaster. After a few years of Basic being the only version of the new edition available, Kenzer & Company have finally sent the new Player's Handbook with there still being time to pre-order and get the PDF version for free. I'm particularly looking forward to this as I was one of the few to get in on the order for the Beta edition, so I got to have a little input in the book (mostly a couple of comments in the Introduction).

With the Player's Handbook coming soon and the Game Master Guide on its way, I thought I would revisit my old post by doing a list of the top three things I like about the new HackMaster.

The Opposed-Die Roll Mechanic

In older games, die rolls were one-sided affairs. You rolled the die and if you meet or beat the number required, you succeed. It does tend to mean that if you roll low, you fail. A lot of people get frustrated when that happens and those bad feelings tend to spill into the rest of the game. With an opposed die mechanic, a low roll isn't the end as long as your opponent rolls lower or has a large enough penalty.

The Numbers Game

As player characters advance in level, they tend to move on from the obstacles that plagued them early on. One can't have a 10th level fighter can't waste his time with kobolds after all. But thanks to the above mechanic, those little buggers are still a threat to high-level PCs. High-level PCs that mowed through orcs and goblins before are now challenged by facing larger numbers of them. So a good GM never has to worry about running out of threats.

The Support

Two days ago, someone on the Kenzer boards asked for advice on how to deal with a group of players that got off the track for the adventure and went to another town. Within a short period of time, Jolly Blackburn posted an image showing the layout of the town in question that he had been working on for another project. A lot of companies make a product, but it's the service along with the product that builds loyalty. I've had the privilege to meet and play with the Kenzer D-Team on a few occasions. They are some of the nicest and most dedicated people I have met. I feel that I get more than a game from them, I get goodwill. You can't put a price on that.

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