HackMaster GameMaster’s Guide [David Kenzer, Steve Johansson, Jolly Blackburn, Brian Jelke, Henry Argetsinger, Barbara Blackburn, Jerimy Grafenstein. This book gives GameMasters all they need to know to delve into the wonderful, adventurous world of the HackMaster role-playing game. It is all about killing. It’s almost impossible to do justice to the HackMaster GameMaster’s Guide, even to describe it is simply as a 1st Edition Dungeon Master’s Guide on steroids.

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The author would like to state that he is reviewing his own personally bought copies of the product. Okay, it is time for some honesty folks. Be honest now, gamemazter I know a lot of you I include myself in this number are guilty.

There is nothing for you to feel shame about. What did Chris just say?

Yup, I said hand holding. The fine folks at Kenzer want to walk you through becoming a GM in a fashion that assumes you are smart, capable and very new at this.

Over and over within the text of this book, they provide insightful and frankly inspiring commentary to guide you on your path from player to GM Overlord of all you survey. If only your first girlfriend or boyfriend had been this gentle and sure of your potential! I will break down this review of the GM guide section by section. This is mainly to convey what each section brings to the table and to stress the features present in this tome and their in-game application.

The minute they queued up the slower version of the theme song music, you knew the Brady kids and you were about to learn a life lesson. I have read a LOT of how to be a gamemaster books. While most have several nuggets of truth in them, few if any encompass what being a Gamesmaster is all about. The GameMastering advice section starts gently discussing what it is to be a gamemaster versus a player. It gives a clear and thorough explanation on how to make that leap.

It covers several tropes of gamemastering, such as avoiding railroads, winging it, enhancing your table ambiance. The real gems though are in the guive of tough table hackmastr, something I am personally a fan of.

Man oh man, I only wish I had hackmasteg to take me aside and say this when I began. I especially would call attention to the bit about Sporadic Attendance. Instructions are given on how to introduce players unfamiliar with gaming, players use to a certain style of RPG or just non-crunch system players to Hackmaster.

I will go on record as saying as of yet, I do not think I have read a how-to GM guide that has so inspired me to run a game as this one has. I have been playing since and GMing since roughly and this section makes me excited all over again for the hobby. The Combat section is broken into small bite size chunks. Each heading covers one topic such as ranged attacks, melee attacks etc and within that section, it covers specific issues revolving around that form of attack.

Range attacks, for instance, both gamemasteer and magical can be affected by cover or concealment.

Kenzer & Company Hackmaster Downloads – GM Only

Just because you duck behind a rock does not mean it is covering your entire body. The degree of cover determines how hard it is for the attacker to penetrate your defense. On the other hand that rock might protect you from a fireball sent dead on but if it is cast at the side of that rock it provides little to no protection. The folks at Kenzer do not just stop there though.


On top of many situational dilemmas due to the environment, weather and other conditions, they also offer advanced rules. I like that they left it up to us to decide if we want that option added in. Combat information from a GM perspective is given a full explanation. Footing, engaging and disengaging opponents, battling aerial opponents are just gamemasrer of the topics the authors hackmsater on. They even give a few tactics of common flying monsters as examples to help flesh out GMing such battles.

The biggest chunk of hackmastrr combat section covers fumble tables and critical tables. Some ahckmaster be put off by such expansive charts but it is not as complex as it first appears. Each flowchart utilizes a specific gamemastet type. Hacking, Piercing, Crushing each has tables.

You roll results using a d system, which is easily done on a phone app, or by using ten-sided dice for the roll.

Players hackmster learn to fear the crit. That is good, combat is random and unpredictable. To make things easier on the GM, Kenzerco has given flowcharts to help decide outcomes. This section, however, covers what happens outside the bloody encounters.

Environmental perils like drowning, moving in darkness, starvation and extreme hot and cold effects get a full explanation.

There is more than one way to kill a character, and in Hackmaster doubly so. The book even discusses arrow arc and how much clearance is necessary to shoot a ranged weapon a significant distance. Yes, that is right…arrows do not shoot feet in a straight line. Want to know if smothering that fire makes you choke from smoke inhalation.

HACKMASTER Part 2, One Gamemaster’s Guide to rule them all!

Trying to decide what effects carrying on through the night has on players. That is in there too. The spellcasting chapter is both interesting and complex. It adds many optional layers to handling casting.

Players can, if they choose, break from convention and risk possible mishap to bolster their magical spell. The chapter covers the use of:. Characters do a lot of traveling in roleplaying games.

Sometimes it is purposeful, such as a caravan escort. Other times it is necessary to reach the dungeon or next plot point in the adventure. Regardless of that, the open road is not without perils or costs. There nothing out of the normal here. Most of the information is pretty dry but necessary. Inevitably, your heroes will quit the dungeon and return back to their base of operation in some small town or city. While there they will want to seek further training in the skills they have been working on while adventuring.

Players are welcome to try to learn without help but it costs double the amount of BP points to do so.

Trainers do not work for free, however, so players will have to pay coin to get that next bit of training. Which makes total sense. I highly doubt a subject matter expert in this day and age would expect to give their knowledge free. They had to endure time, costs of their own and ordeals to learn what they know and the players will catch no breaks either.


Formal training has additional benefits. When players seek advanced training they are able to roll on the training events table. This can be anything from plot hook events, extra equipment, or multiple boons. In fact, with a few exceptions, the vast majority of outcomes are positive. Pricing for reselling of equipment, random tables for quick tavern generation and the effects of tavern binging are given flesh here too.

This chapter focuses in on the effects of aging. Group honor and fame are also discussed in decent detail.

Your knight might be very honorable but his associates may do things that fall opposite of his desires. While his high honor bolsters the group interactions, his companions deeds reflect poorly on him with folks in his particular social ranking.

As players become known for their deeds it follows them around and this provides a set way to determine what that exact effect is. A few new proficiencies such as Farrier, Butchers, and Masons are given. The GM is also provided a few tips for handling certain quirks and flaws. It is nice to have limits with clear explanation, and for skills such as Glean Information especially so. I have been a big fan of the zero level idea for a while. Taking the path of Zero to Hero is quite fun and Hackmaster delivers an optional way to facilitate this.

Each class has certain zero level restrictions. Clerics even get special guidelines revolving around their ethos. Hackmaster, since 4th edition is a firm believer in players need for assistance. It is hard to hold a torch and a shield and a sword and be effective the minute combat starts.

Players may want to invest in proteges. A protege or sidekick is kind of like an insurance policy should they die there is a character waiting in the wings for them to play. This is a completely Hackmaster idea, one more reason Hackmaster rises above the competition. It allows a player to still take part and helps to put a band-aid on the loss of a favorite character. Being a GM is not necessarily intuitive. It can be especially hard for the neophyte GM to put together their first adventure.

This chapter outlines how to create an adventure from start to finish. I have given a lot of words over to what makes the book excel over similar guides. It is not that the chapters in this section do not provide innovative ideas.

They do a great job of conveying how to handle distribution of treasure. I just think that this aspect of any RPG is fairly mundane in nature. It is the attention to detail in specific that is continuously maintained throughout this book that sets it apart.