So, as I’m back from a nice relaxing honeymoon and have been flung full force back into the rat-race, I figured I’d take a break from catching up with work and quickly write up up a short overview of the our second session of Hackmaster 5th Edition.

You may recall I’d previously mentioned that we were taking a very short break from our usual Tuesday night GURPS game (which is itself a very good system) as our GM had buggered off for a few weeks in sunny Cyprus (it’s alright for some – serves him right that Sterling is now less reliable than a plumbers estimate) and whilst we were awaiting, (in keen anticipation) his return with the Duty Free, we had decided to give Hackmaster 5th Ed a quick try.

Part Deux……

 Now, I won’t lie, I had been hoping for an opportunity to try the system for a while – we had been running GURPS for a few years and before that played D&D3.5 for so long that I was thoroughly sick of it. I had been reading up on it, purchased the core books, got my head around the rules……. all I needed was a unsuspecting group to inflict my GM skills upon….. MWWWWWHHHHHHAAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

As I’d said in part 1, I’d pre-generated around a dozen characters whilst testing out the character gen rules (which are very impressive, if somewhat time consuming) and given my players a choice of any of them – of which they had chosen:

  1. a Dwarf Fighter “tank” (i.e. very high defence), with a Great Warhammer and a Medium Shield.
  2. a Dwarf Fighter with a Battle-Axe and small shield
  3. an Elven Mage with his trusty staff
  4. a Human Cleric armed with a Mace
  5. a Human Barbarian armed with a Battle-Axe and Medium Shield
  6. a Human Fighter with a Broadsword and Small Shield

I’d set the game in Games Workshop’s “Old World” setting with the PC’s travelling north through Wissenland towards Nuln – I’m working on a couple of side-quests, but for now the main crux of the adventure is due to start when they reach Nuln – Whilst they keep heading that way I’m pretty much winging it, just to get them all familiar with the rule set. By the end of the last session the players had arrived in Wittenhausen and collected a nice bounty on some Goblins they’d met along the way, no-one was badly injured and with their new found coin they were in quite good spirits (although, it came as a nasty shock to a couple of the players that they had to spend a few copper pieces fixing some armour after I had scored a couple of penetrating hits on them)….. a sign of things to come boys, a sign of things to come….

Unfortunately, for the second session we were a couple of players down (one due to illness and two were off writing their best man’s speech for my wedding – I can’t really complain about the lack of preparation, I didn’t write my speech until the night before!!). Anyway, after resting for two days whilst their armour was repaired and a few HP were regained, the remainder of the party set after breakfast on day four of our brave new role-playing world (the others having pressing business to attend to in Wittenhausen, and would catch up by the time the party reached Saxau – the next village along the river Soll).

This gave me the perfect opportunity to test my weather/encounter generator. As Wissenland is slightly south the main part of Empire I figured it would have a slightly warmer climate, so I set the season to “Summer” (rather than Autumn) and climate to “Temperate” – this told me (via a rather complex set of columns) that (i) the weather would be generally good during the daylight hours – other than a few isolated rain showers/wind nothing would slow them down to any great extent, (ii) at no point during the day would the temperature drop to a level that would require rolls and (iii) there would only be a single encounter at approximately 10am that morning…… However, it also told me that (i) there would be a heavy thunderstorm overnight, lasting until the wee hours and (ii) there would be another encounter around 4am the following morning.

This general overview of the day let me quickly put together a plot. At the appointed time I made all the players make a listening check to hear a coach galloping up the road behind them – they all passed and moved to the side of the road as a unliveried black coach, with blacked-out velvet curtains (pulled shut against any intrusion of sunlight) thundered past – a sturdy coachman, blunderbuss across his knees, hat low and collar turned up at the reins didn’t acknowledge their shouts of anger as a coach wheel hit a conveniently placed pot-hole and splashed filthy water all over our brave heroes.

Did they chase down the scoundrel in the coach and give them, and his driver a well deserved drubbing? did they frog march them to the next town and demand redress and compensation in the form of a dapper new attire?…… sadly no, they simply stared as the coach turned off the main road a hundred yards or so in front and headed towards the village of Pforzen – a few miles off to the East (with whispers of “Dracula” and “I don’t fancy that” or “lets just keep heading North”…. amongst other such cowardly mutterings)

Well, that put me in a bit of a bind (we had previously had a discussion about the importance of the Honour system in Hackmaster – this is a great system of benefits/disadvantages that a player can obtain for good role-paying. there are a number of categories including “Personal Honour” which requires one to protect ones honour from infringement), so I had planned on them following the coach to the local town – where I had a small storyline to run involving kidnapped tavern wenches, chaos cultists, human sacrifice, demonic worship and Slaaneshi orgies in moonlit woodland groves (oh, and the Man in the Black Coach, of course)……. So what to do, what to do…..?

never mind, players will be players and they don’t like being railroaded (it’s just a shame that they would miss out on the honour, fame and money – not to mention the “undying gratitude” of a couple of busty tavern girls…..), but what to do, what to do…….

Well, to be honest, the encounter probably would have been too much for them (it was written with the idea that we wouldn’t have three players missing) so maybe it wasn’t a bad thing. anyway – I decided that I would have the encounter happen (just without our players being there, rather the heroes of the day would be  a group of local Roadwardens together with a a couple of Imperial Witch Hunters) – in the ensuring ambush, I decided that most of the cultists and Beastmen would have been killed but that the Man in the Black Coach would escape – I’m sure we’ll see him again!!!! Unfortunately, a couple of the cultists and a few Beastmen had also escaped and had made their way across the countryside back towards the safety of their own woods, conveniently passing the point where our “brave” players had camped down for the night – stumbling across their camp at around…..oooo let’s say 4am the following morning (I love it when things stack up like that)

“Hi-de-hi Campers”

So, it’s 4am, there’s been a thunderstorm for most of the night and the ground is very, very wet.

Sensibly, the players had decided to put some firewood under their cart to keep it dry during the storm.

Not so sensibly, none of them had a tent so they had resorted to sleeping under the cart (in their shifts) to keep dry. Anyway, the storm passed just as the second shift started and a fire was lit – at least the Barbarian would have some light when the hoards of Chaos descended.

I hit them with 3 cultists (one with a mutation to give him legs like a kangaroo and one as an albino – which made him even weaker than the already pretty poor stats he started with) and 3 Beastmen (1 with tentacles providing increased reach). This was probably slightly too many to be fair (even though the cultists were woefully poor – even more so the albino). Overall it was a very hard fight (not helped by my rolling 6 critical hits in a row – yep 6 20’s on a D20, in a row!!) and by the end of the fight the Barbarian was on 8HP, the Dwarf Fighter was on 2HP and the Human Fighter was down with -3HP (having been cruelly clubbed over the head by my mighty albino cultist). But again, it let us see some of the wonderful additional rules that Hackmaster provides, including

  1. critical hits (including a significant hit that will provide a minus until it is fully healed) 
  2. Near perfect attacks
  3. Fumbles (weapons thrown or damaged)
  4. Perfect and Near Perfect Defence
  5. Knock-backs and Double Knock-backs/Knock-downs
  6. Trauma checks and how bad they can really be
  7. Armour damage (a lot of it)
  8. Penetrating damage (a lot of it!!)
  9. Shield destruction and the fact that shield hits can still hurt

So, having covered an impressive 18 miles the first day out of Wittenhausen, as dawn comes up on day 5, we need to see (i) whether the human fighter is going to pull through after being battered by a pasty skinned weakling, (ii) whether any infections set in on the plethora of wounds suffered at the hands of the chaos menace (using my Infection rules – based on the excellent Winds of Chaos website), and (iii) what sort of state of exhaustion our players start the day in (they slept in armour, didn’t have enough sleep due to the storm/wet and have been very badly wounded – I think I have most of them dropping at least two levels of fatigue and having to make around 6 or 7 fatigue checks not to drop further!) – and they still have two days march to get to the next town (with only enough food for one more day)!

In short – Hackmaster 5th Ed – I love it!!

Now, I mentioned in my last post about some basic tools that I had written to help me along the way (most of them were originally written for D&D3.5). I’ve included links to them below (no idea if the links will work). they are pretty basic and (I hope) self-explanatory. They have been put very hastily together for my own use and as such may contain some rather dodgy maths – but if you can make use of them, you’re welcome to give them a go

Count Tracker 
This is simply to help keep track of when my creatures have actions. you enter the Initiative of each creature in the first box and then include the speed of its action in the next box along etc etc. Pressing the button at the top should tell you what round you are on and which monsters have actions that round. (I think I might have left the stats for the cultists and Beastmen underneath the fillable section – it made it easier to have it one one screen at the time)

Random Encounter Generator
This is based on information in the Hacklopedia of Beasts (habitat, frequency, etc). the way I use it is, if you meet a creature during it’s active period it will generally be outside it’s lair, otherwise it will be inside (i.e. if you roll wolves during the day you may spot a outcropping of rocks in the distance and upon investigation may find a pack of wolves resting there. roll wolves at night and chances are that they have found you!)

Hopefully I’m not infringing any rights with this one – I’m happy to remove it if I am.

Weather Generator
This generates the weather for a given season/climate, tells you wind speed (and broad category), temperature (and category), random encounters (based on 6%/hr), snow fall depth, and what general hazards may apply (including ice, flooding, whether a character is wet/dry, whether they may be cold enough to make rolls etc) as well as effects that may be appropriate (reduced vision, listening, chance of flames being extinguished, risk of snow-blindness etc)

These are simply rules for infections, based on the excellent Winds of Chaos website

Simple rules for early firearms in Hackmaster – Based on some Pathfinder rules I found online

I was working on a Town Generator as well, but when I looked at it again, I found quite a lot of issues with the maths, so I’ve pulled that until I have a chance to redo some work on it.

Anyway, they are all pretty basic and I will probably go back and do some more work on them as I go along – but feel free to take a look if you find this sort of thing useful.

Anyway, It’s half 11 and I have to be up a 5 tomorrow to go to work.

have fun until next time