Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Hacking Hackmaster, Part 1 (let the dice explode... not too much)

I just love me some Hackmaster 4th Edition!

And we played the heck out of this game. So here is the thing. Due to the fact that not only all character classes, but also the monsters get a 20 hp kicker from the beginning, fights tend to get a little long. At least in the opinion of some of my players. Me? Nothing wrong with it, that's why it's called Hackmaster, after all. To make things worse: the rules tended to get in the way of gaming. Again, nothing I could not live with, the rules are great and fun to work with. But it slowed the game.

Classic dungeon crawling laziness!

All that changed when we were one day desperate for some dungeon crawling but were to lazy to use Hackmaster. I proposed to give DDA3: Eye of Traldar a try and we started rolling. Mystara, the D&D Rules Cyclopedia (RC) and a few pregenerated characters. It was a blast! And we stayed with it.

But what about all those cool features of Hackmaster?! Follow Through Damage, honor, exploding dice, threshold of pain or Fatigue? I wanted some of that goodness in my game! So let's hack Hackmaster!

Do not let the dice explode!

I tried. Nothing good comes down that road. Well, at least for your players. If dice could be a little bit less exploding, I thought, it would still be a good feature for any D&D game without the hp kicker. It took me a while and some booze to find something similar easy to remember*, but a little less lethal. This is what made the casting:

Echoing dice:


  • Roll the highest value of any dice and you might roll again with the next lower die.
  • If you keep rolling that high, repeat again with the next lower die.
  • There is no die after the d4.
  • Dice in order: 1d20, 1d12, 1d10, 1d8, 1d6, 1d4
  • Not for attacks (but wait! why not?! hm...) or initiative-rolls

It makes combat a little more dangerous, but we play with full hp at first level, so that's fair. And it gives fights just that little something extra both players and Dungeon Master might enjoy.

Part 2 will be about honor, charisma and luck. So stay tuned and roll high!

*Exploding dice: roll the highest value of any dice and you may reroll the dice, subtract 1 and add it to the first roll. If you keep rolling that high, repeat.

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