Sunday, September 8, 2013

Adventures in Trapfinding: Continuing with Hackmaster

Sevlen and (insert elf wizard name here) were travelling west along the river when they reached Salt Haven, a tiny town at the confluence of two rivers. Not quite the last navigable point, but certainly working on it. We arrived just in time for the funeral of a dwarf, and spent some time in the local tavern, the Green Gizzard, learning that the dwarf had been killed in the ruins* of a wizard's tower (actually, the ancient basement beneath the tower). Choosing to confront the evil and maybe find some useful gadgets, Sevlen and (Iewnh) joined with the adventurers to explore the basement complex.

Meanwhile, Ted the wizard woke up in a dark cell, stripped of most of his possessions, with no idea how long he had been there. With ghouls approaching his cell, he used magic to break out, then ran lost for several days through a maze of twisty passages, all alike.

After some rest and healing, the party returned to the complex. They explored the rooms from before, aided by Sevlen's ability to map and keep his sense of direction. They searched the room where Flint died, finding an expensive ornamental dagger, then continued on. Unsatisfied with their cautious speed, (Iewnh) decided we could leave off searching for traps. He promptly fell into a 15' pit trap, pulling Grimwulf down on top of him, injuring himself severely. Sevlen climbed down, and nursed the worst of their wounds, and they were briefly sealed in while Elwyn sought a way to open the trap. Soon after she did, Ted burst into the corridor. A brief and tense standoff was interrupted by the ghouls that had chased Ted, but our Elwyn had learned how to work the pit trap... the ghouls were dropped, roasted, then smashed with Sevlen's sling stones (my argument being "Arrows cost money. I'm throwing rocks."), while the rest of the party fought some largish spiders sneaking up from behind. Examination proved that one of the ghouls was the elf thief's brother, lost 20 years ago. Further examination proved that the spiders were edible, and so we had a bit of a spider-meal at a driftwood campfire near the entrance.

Fortified with cooked spider, we advanced, disturbing some giant rats, who also fell to the pit trap and ranged weapons (with most of the rats being sealed inside the pit trap; with two dead ghouls and their own injured to feed on, they had time.) Our priest of the bear, Ava Cado, opted to befriend one of the remaining rats, and we turned up a few silver in copper in the trash they'd abandoned.

Continuing on, we found astrological calculations that predate the tower on the floor of a long-abandoned bedroom, Ted's old cell (which seemed to be converted storage), and a room with a statue that controlled the doors. Heading out from the statue room, we found a ginormous storage room. Cooking smells wafted across the room, so the thief and Sevlen (who picked up a little stealth) snuck forward. Sevlen had some terrible misfortune, and failed to avoid detection (I rolled 01 more than is statistically probable last night) and the goblins are closing in...

Grimwulf, our fighter, didn't have much to do last night, as most of our combat involved "Let them fall into the pit and kill them from afar." However, with two people exposed and goblins advancing... and pretty much EVERYONE out of spells ((Iewnh) has enough for 1, he said)... Grimwulf is soon going to find himself very valuable.

*RIP Flint Goldheart, of whom Elwyn, our elven thief, said "His smell wasn't that bad and his sense of humor was acceptable." A fitting eulogy.

EDIT: The player of (Iewnh) informs me that the character is named Fredikya.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Hackmaster Alive!

In discussing Hackmaster with some of my face to face friends, the recurrent complaint I hear is about the 3d6, straight down, and other random aspects of character generation. If you cherry-pick your flaws instead of rolling randomly, they're worth only half. You don't get X% in a skill for an expenditure of Y BP, you get to roll a die based on your current skill level for Y BP.... you may get 1 point for your 10 BP spent on Divine Lore, or you may roll your initial d12p*, get a 36, and be an eerily competent miner from your dwarven freebie (seen it happen).

However, one thing I very much like about this is how it helps you flesh out your character. The previous character? He started out as a Dejy (human phenotype, similar in appearance to Asians or Native Americans, with all the variety that entails), perhaps from the large city of Shyta-on-Dobyo. But then I started rolling. And I wound up with a priest of the Traveler whose brothers and sisters were mostly angry with him, and who knew the Eternal Lantern better than his own faith. It completely changed who the character was, and helped to make him real. His background, cribbed from Merle Haggard, wrote itself in the action of random dice rolls indicating where he came from... a man of who was pretty unsuited to the life he was trained for.

This happens all the time with Hackmaster's random tables. Like the 4 Intelligence halfling thief with SCARY Fire-building skills and pocking (Hey, look who likes to play with fire and got burned). Or the almost-shopkeeper** gnome rogue. His only good stats were Looks, Charisma, and a slightly acceptable Intelligence (once I reorganized them)... his Needy flaw told me immediately who he was... someone whose physical weakness and low Wisdom lead them to rely on others far more than they really needy to... but who had the ability to make others do what he wanted.

It's a refrain among Hackmaster players... play the game. Don't obsess about how little fighters get, sit down and play the game. Don't worry because your stats are lower than you're used to... sit down and play the game. Because once you do, you find how these things work to make a great game.

*Hackmaster uses "penetrating" dice, similar to exploding dice. However, on any subsequent roll, you subtract 1 from what shows on the die; on a d12p, if you roll a 12 and then a 1, your total is 12 + (1-1); if you rolled a 10 on the second, your total would be 12 + (10-1). Roll the maximum again, and you keep going, but you still subtract 1 from each die after the first. d20p penetrates to a d6p, however, and d100p penetrates to a d20p.
**While stats are 3d6 in order for best results, there's one bit of leeway... if your stats utterly suck, you can declare the character a shopkeeper and roll again with no penalty. These stats have to be either nothing of 13 or higher, or 2 or more stats of 5 or less.

Momma Tried: Character Intro for Hackmaster

I turned 21 in Cosdol, beginning my life upon the road. Despite my family's best attempts to raise me into a priest of the Eternal Lantern, the first thing I remember is an urge to see over the next hill. I'm the only one of my family so afflicted; my sister and brothers all turned out properly for the faith, in one way or another.

Perhaps I should begin again.

My family is the Lanterns of Bleslelna in Crandolen; our family has served the Eternal Lantern for generations. Brothers and sisters marry acolytes of the Lord of Luminosity, and it is rare that someone not related to us is not High Lantern of Cosdol. Everyone in the family serves in some way, from questing against undead and walking the Dark Watch to making lanterns and oil. We are raised to it. So, a young man of strong enough arm and quick enough mind was fully expected to be walking the Dark Watch alert for danger, not studying the stars, not slipping off to walk the roads late at night or all through the day. My sister, Avil, and my older brother, Blesden, hated the freedom my parents gave me... I think they saw more clearly where my road was taking me, and that the road was not one fully lit by the Eternal Lantern. Their animosity rubbed off on Nurband, the youngest of the family, though Senden stayed close to me (perhaps because we're P'Baran twins, born less than a year apart). My mother and father gave me everything I needed, but even they had to turn their backs once I swore orders to the Bright Eyes. They placed a pack at the door and locked it against me.

So I set east; east or south were my options, and I had no desire to see Brandobia. East over the Elenons, and into P'Baran lands, never to see Cosdol again. I worked as a muleteer on caravans over the mountains, wintered in P'Bapar where I helped mend leather and raise houses, and now head north from the city, to walk until autumn turns again.

Description: Sevlen is what might be called "pleasantly ugly"; he's not so ugly that you call people over to look at him, but the tanning of his skin combined with pockmarks (from an early brush with cowpox) leaves him somewhat resembling an oil-spotted leather bag. His hair is brown at the start of the travelling season, but, should he lose his comfortable slouch hat (which is pretty likely), it will sun-bleach by the time the leaves turn. When funds allow, he makes it a point to buy new shoes or boots when he settles for the winter, break them in, and give away his old boots to those in need.