Tag Archives: HackMaster

Playing old characters

ThayziakI am having a discussion with a friend about doing a play by post game. He wanted to know which of my characters I wanted to play. Initially I thought I should do two new characters, maybe a Fighter and then a multi-classed Magic User/Thief/Cleric. However paging through the book, I discovered you really can not do that, so then I thought maybe a Fighter/Thief and a Cleric/Magic User. After fiddling around with that for a while, I found it rather unsatisfying and could not decide what I wanted to do. This morning I was doing some work on the Wiki I use to keep track of all my game setting data and I came across the old Companions of Xarth PC list and there towards the bottom was the only character I played in that campaign, Thayziaik. Being a gaming pack rat, I of course still have his character sheet, so I thought maybe this was the way to go.

This is one of those things that comes from playing D&D for so long, you end up with a lot of characters with history. I did not play Thayziaik much, at 3rd level I suspect he did not see play for more than 15-20 games and the last time I played him would have been 1989 or 1990. Assuming he was around 20 years old (Minimum starting age for a human Magic user) when I last played him, and game time has progressed at the same speed as the real world, Thayziaik is now 45 years old, he is still 3rd level, so he has not been out adventuring, what has he been doing for the last 15 years? I am thinking he has been cloistered inside the Companions of Xarth Guild house, most likely using his identify spell along with his Arcane Lore skill to determine what various magic items the adventuring teams come back with are and what the probable value is. He of course charged very reasonable fees for preforming this sometimes dangerous task.

The conversion to HackMaster was pretty straight forward, I think he does not look too different from his original incarnation as an AD&D1E character, pictured above.

Str 16/01, Dex 15/12, Con 16/08, Int 14/36, Wis 13/19, Cha 12/10, Com 10/04
Race Human, Class Magic User, Level 3, Alignment Chaotic Good, Hit Points 39
Skills – Common 100%, Arcane Lore 50%, Spellcraft 25%, Riding 25%, Reading/Writing 25%
Talents – Blind Fighting
Robe, Cloak, Boots, Gloves, Cloak, BackPack, Staff, Hunting Dog, Ring of Truth
Spells: Armor, Find Familiar, Identify, Magic Missile, Mend, Munz’s Acid Bolt,
Ray of Enfeeblement, Web.

More Misc Shit

Okay, the last couple of weeks have been busy and not in a good way. Since my rule is to avoid talking about work on my blog, I will go into no detail, suffice to say, I glad this week is over and shit is done.

Went to a film festival last weekend, and we saw Second hand Lions. It is a really good movie, it is well scripted, with a solid plot and good acting by Robert Duvall and Michael Caine. If you are looking for a solid drama to watch, I highly recommend this one.

I finished my month of playing solo Tunnels and Trolls adventures. During week one, I played 4 hours, in week two, I played 2 hours, in week three I played 3 hours and in my final week, I played 2 hours. So at the end of the month, I had played a grand total of 11 hours. This was pretty close to the equivalent of 3 regular table top sessions. My character did finally make 2nd level, which is probably about right. As I said in an earlier post, solo play falls short in a couple of different categories. Like computer games, you have very little room for creative play. For instance, in the Friday night game, The party had to rescue the rich merchant’s daughter from the slavers, they had to get into a tower owned by a high level Battle Mage/Cleric, the tower was well guarded and the PC’s out numbered. One of my players, Scott came up with the idea to simply cast invisibility on everyone in the party. As long as they were careful, they pretty much had freedom of movement inside the tower. Computer games and solo adventures simply do not allow for that kind of play. So any way, I don’t think I will be returning to solo play for the time being.



More Friday Night Dice

IMG_20131227_224319This is a picture of my desktop while I was playing HackMaster Friday night. When I posted this to FaceBook during the game, someone messaged me and asked why I have dice on my desk when you are playing online and have an electronic die roller. The answer is fairly simple, occasionally I like to roll dice and I was goofing off with the dice boot you see on the left.

On a different note, we had our annual Christmas themed game on the 20th. Rather than buying card and sending gifts to my players, I give them their presents in game, usually in the form of a magic item. Jerard (The Fighter) got a flaming sword named Firewolf, which in fact has the intelligence of a dog. Mercer (The Magic User) got a Staff of Striking for when he runs out of Magic Missiles. Tyenvinith (The Thief) got a Cloak of Elven-kind for skulking and sneaking. Legome (The Cleric) got a Pixie fairy sized suit of Elfin Chain Mail, which puts his AC down to -1. Finally and most amusingly is for Dorj-son (The Monk). I gave him what is called an Armband of Human Frailty. It is actually a cursed item, when worn by anything with a strength that exceeds 18/00, it reduces their strength to 18/00 or human level strength. It was designed to hamper Giants and particularly brutish Ogers, by reducing their strength and making them more manageable. The side effect of this is, anyone whose strength is under 18/00 is raised to 18/00, the height of normal human strength. When giants wear it, it is usually worn as an arm or wrist band, when human sized people wear it, it is worn as belt and is often mistaken for a girdle of hill giant strength.

How to be a good RPG player

1. Know the rules of the game you are playing. You don’t have to memorize every book, but you should at the very least be able to roll up a character and understand the basic dice mechanics of the game.

2. Know how to make a decent character, know what constitutes a good character. Building a D&D character that averages less than 1 point of damage per turn is a useless character, on the other end of that scale, a Call of Cthulhu character whose primary skill is shooting/punching things, is likewise useless.

3. Know your group. Try to get to know everyone in the group, try to find out what they want out of the game and what their strengths and weaknesses are. If you are not a good fit for the group, politely drop out of the game.

4. Know your GM, know what kind of game he wants to run. Find out what his expectations are, does he like a fast paced shoot em up game, or does he prefer a slow burn plot. Build characters that play to your GM’s strengths, don’t build characters that exploit or highlight the GM’s weaknesses.

5. Be a player that other players like to be around, play characters other characters want to be around. If you find yourself uttering the words “I am just playing my character!”, you have failed this one.

Scourge of the Slave Lords

My Friday night game had its 4th session last night. We missed two Friday’s, one was to play a random dungeon with David as the GM and another because I had to be out of bed early Saturday morning. As of last night, I think all but one character is now 2nd level, I believe the party Thief may have made 3rd. Last night the first magic item of the campaign was found, I suspect it will be the first of many.

slaveloadsWe are playing the Slave Lord campaign, an old AD&D 1st edition set of 4 modules. This campaign was recently reprinted as a hardbound book “Against the Slave Lords”. Included with this new printing was a new module, A0 Danger at Darkshelf Quarry. Additionally, Wizards of the Coast recently released A5 The Last Slave Lord, in Dungeon Magazine #215. If your read through all of these modules as I have, it becomes very apparent that magic items flowed like Niagara falls back in the day. If the players search every single room and kill every single opponent and successfully identifies every magic item, by the closing credits of the last module, these guys will be loaded up to their eyeballs in magic items. I realize the thinking here, I understand the original writers thought “No way they find everything, better put in extra chances to get some items.”. I can tell you, I have seen adventuring parties descend on a dungeon like locusts, stripping it of all its resources, destroying everything in their paths, leaving only scorched earth behind them and as I remember, we were a lawful good party.


Outsourcing your internet persona

So the other night during our Friday night game, it came to light that Thor had outsourced his internet persona. We were actually gaming with a fellow named Sanjay in Bangladesh, whom Thor was paying $2 per hour to impersonate him on the internet. This was a brilliant idea on Thor’s part, first because Sanjay is a better player than he is and second because if I could pay someone to do all my screwing around on the internet, that would free up a massive amount of time to do more constructive things. Mind you, by constructive things, I mean masturbate.

RPG’s that come and go

Each year a slew of new role playing games come out, occasionally one of these games becomes popular. I generally refer to these games as the darlings of RPG.net. I have written about a game called Noblis before, this is the paragon of this type of game. Basically this type of game is an RPG that sounds good in theory, this generates a lot of excitement in various gaming circles and by extension the internet. You start seeing thread after thread on RPG.net “Sell/Unsell me on XXXXX” and everyone gets on the thread and praises the brilliance of this new RPG and how it is going to replace D&D. Then the game reports start trickling in, it becomes obvious no one is playing more than 1 or 2 games with this new RPG and eventually it fades from site without anyone really saying what is wrong with the game and why it lost momentum.

Usually, as was the case with Noblis, is the game is just plain boring. Court intrigue style games are entertaining for about 20 minutes, after that 99% of all gamers get bored. With other games it is the lack of support material, this was true of The One Ring. The core books came out then it was almost a year before there was a  follow up product and by that time most everyone assumed the game was dead and moved on. The other primary reason is a tragically flawed game system, this is where games like Adventure! went down, either it was too easy to build an unbeatable munchkin or it was too hard to build a reasonably fun character. Alternately combat is slow and bloated with no good way to house rule it without switching to a new game system.

The newest RPG.net darling is Numenera, I am starting to see the threads¬† and even some “I have not played this yet, but I am going to review it anyway” articles. I am thinking about starting a pool so we can bet on how long it will take for Numenera to go from darling to damned.

Friday Night HackMaster

With Friday Night Magic now behind me along with a nice long break from the Friday night RPG group, it is now time to get back into a serious game. I feel much better these days, things have slowed down for me at work and I really did need a break. We discussed moving the game to Sundays, but Sundays are impossible for David due to work, so we are keeping it on Friday nights at 9 PM CST.

My plan is to gather for the first time on August 30th to roll up characters and then play our first game on September 6th.I plan to play HackMaster, again I considered A&D1E, but decided meh!, HM and 1E are more or less the same game and everyone has the books already. My plan at this point is to play the Slavers series. Wizard of the Coast has once again published it as part of the retro reprint effort, included is a whole new adventure in the series and by the time we finish that, I should have something else lined up.

Hopefully everyone will be returning to the game. Three months is a long hiatus from playing. With that kind of gap, it is easy to get to doing other things. I suppose we will see how things go.

Experience point theory

For as long as I can remember, my thoughts on how many experience points (XP) D&D/HM character should get has been divergent from mainstay gamers. My mentor in all things D&D, Jerry Stoddard, only gave out the exact amount of XP earned by killing creatures AND he used a little known rule from WAY back that said if the PC was of a higher level than the hit dice of the monster killed, you had to divide the XP by the characters level. So an orc worth 10 XP at first level was only worth 1 XP at 10th. What this made for was really bloody slow progression. We played every week three years and my highest level PC was 5th level, it is my belief that no PC ever made 10th level on one of Jerry’s games. Imagine being 4th level needing needing 3000 odd XP to get to 5th and the GM just awarded you 326 XP for the whole nights game. Don’t get me wrong, those were some great games, Jerry was a great GM and I loved those games, but progression was just too slow.

So When I moved to Bozeman and started my own game, I wanted to make sure there was some reasonable progression. I started with to assumptions, first I should be able to obtain 10th level playing weekly games for 1 year. Second, characters should be going up a level every 3-6 games. I then sat down and averaged the XP it took for each of the 4 basic classes to level and divided those numbers up so lower levels took 3 games to level, mid levels took 4-5 games to level and higher levels took 6 games. This skewed weirdly because of the way XP increased across the levels and I realized it would be a rare year where 52 games were actually played and 45 games was much more reasonable for 10th level. So instead of characters levelling every 3-6 games, I made the base line 3 games for 1st and 2nd level, then the number of games required to level would increase by 1 for each level. So it takes 3 game to make 2nd level, 3 games to make 3rd, 4 games to make 4th, 5 games to make 5th, etc. This made it so the average character would make 9th level around the 45th game and 10th around the 55th game. Pretty close to my original intent. From then on everyone got a static amount of XP based on the number of games we had played in this campaign.

This system worked pretty well, some players felt this was too slow, but the real problem here was no one was getting points for doing anything special or particularly smart. This lead to a hodge podge of giving bonus XP for various things and resulted in players trying to do mildly entertaining antics in hopes getting some small XP bonus. Years later when we started playing HackMaster, we were introduced to the idea of Most Valuable Player award. Basically all the players vote on who did the best during the game, with the GM as tie breaker. The MVP was then awarded a 25% XP bonus for the game. I also added the GM Award, an award for the GM to give out another 25% bonus for things he viewed as exceptional or entertaining. So a good player who played well consistently would level significantly faster, but over time most everyone gets some bonus points.

RE: Friday Night Dice

My usual Friday night game is currently on hiatus. My job and old age have conspired to make playing the game on Friday nights difficult to say the least. My intention is to start playing again this fall with some changes.

First, I plan to move the game to Sunday afternoon starting at 12:00 PM central time. This was actually the time we played when I first started the group and somewhere along the way we switched to Friday nights. Unfortunately, this leaves us a man down most likely. David works 3rd shift, making Sunday afternoon impossible for him, so I will be looking for a 4th player and maybe a 5th as well.

The second change will likely be the game we are playing. While GURPS is a great game, it does not have nearly the support material AD&D/HM have and if I run out of my own stuff, I can always fall back on one of hundreds of modules out there, for that reason we will be playing AD&D when we come back together. I feel comfortable with this decision, most everyone I know owns a copy or if they don’t, they can get a used copy off ebay for $5 or buy one of the new reprints. My only question now is what books do I allow, I have 3 choices; Player Handbook or Player Handbook+Unearthed Arcana or Player Handbook+Unearthed Arcana+Wilderness Survival Guide+Dungeon Survival Guide.

My last decision I have not decided yet. What game world, what setting should I use. I have a few options. First there is always Caldoom, a place everyone is familiar with and has a full and rich history built primarily by player characters. Second, I can go for the Points of Light campaign world, this was the setting I was going to flip to before we moved to GURPS, it is well written and looks like there is a ton of opportunity for PC’s to die horrible screaming deaths. My third option is to build something from scratch. Plop a town down at the mouth of a river empting into an ocean, with a distant smoking mountain and see what happens.

New World smArtists Interpretation.