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HackMaster Basic (free) $0.00
Average Rating:4.1 / 5
Ratings Reviews Total
4 7
6 1
1 4
0 0
0 1
HackMaster Basic (free)
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HackMaster Basic (free)
Publisher: Kenzer & Company
by Andrew K. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/24/2013 14:22:07
Years ago this product came out with great fanfare, I bought a printed copy, and eagerly awaited the full product. THAT KENZER CO TOOK ALMOST 5 YEARS TO FINALLY RELEASE!!! NOW THEY GIVE THIS AWAY FOR FREE?! THANKS FOR TAKING MY MONEY AND THEN LAUGHING IN MY FACE BLACKBURN, THE JOKE ISN'T THE GAME IT'S YOUR PATHETIC RELEASE SCHEDULE. FOOL ME ONCE, AND THATS THE LAST KENZER CO PRODUCT I'LL EVER BUY.

Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
HackMaster Basic (free)
Publisher: Kenzer & Company
by Hamilton R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/16/2012 04:28:21
Hackmaster is an extensive set of rules. I am rating it based on this fact. While the five star and four star reviews will rate the game based on what it can do (and, in a detailed fashion), it also shows one important fact: if you are going to make THIS particular set of rules your ONLY set of rules to play a fantasy genre, then Hackmaster can be a very good choice. (You should just be aware of the time involved in learning this game.) The price makes up for the fact that it is a very intricate and detailed game experience; otherwise, a lower star rating would have been more appropriate. In my opinion, it gets three stars for recreating the wheel and making things too complicated, where other games have simplified certain game mechanics, but it is free after-all... until you want to upgrade to the next level of Hackmaster, that is...

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
HackMaster Basic (free)
Publisher: Kenzer & Company
by Alan H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/14/2012 16:10:17
A stupendous treasure of three books rolled into one, with comics and colour pages found therein.
Don't let the term 'basic' fool you: material for players, game masters and on monsters alike are richly detailed.
Feels ready to play with so much depth already.
Thank you, Kenzer, for making this free product available.

Disclosure: None.
I have no relation with this company, other than years ago, I bought their Kingdoms of Kalamar setting books, and was treated to such similar enriching content.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
HackMaster Basic (free)
Publisher: Kenzer & Company
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/13/2012 06:48:31
Originally posted at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2012/09/13/tabletop-review-hackmas-
ter-basic/

I think Hackmaster falls pretty firmly in the retro-clone category. Seeing as it basically began as a parody of Dungeons and Dragons and then grew from that, it’s kind of hard to classify it as anything else. If retro-clone has negative connotations for you, it shouldn’t! Hackmaster seems like a great take on classic fantasy-based roleplaying.

The Tome of Hackmaster Basic

Hackmaster is known for having a lot of material available, and sometimes that material comes in strange shapes and sizes. This particular volume is over 200 pages of free game that feels like someone ripped the important parts out of several 2nd and 1st ed. D&D books and then bound them together. Basically what the book does is give you a little introduction to the game, then it thrusts a bunch of character sheets in your face with pre-gen characters on them (which is great, I am a huge proponent of pre-gens). After multiple (and I mean multiple) pages the basic attributes are explained. If you’ve played any standard RPG, I don’t have to explain these to you at all; you’ve got your standard Strength, Intelligence, Wisdom, etc. The only novel and cool addition is Honor. Honor is tied to several things, enough so that it actually has its own chapter. How you role-play your character, your bravery, adherence to your alignment, and so on is all honor.

Ok, bring on the character adornment. Pick a class, then pick your stuff. You’ve got weapons and armor, spells for every magic class, abilities for other classes, all the fun stuff that makes character creation interesting (and also makes it take up a full session, remember how I liked pre-gens?). This takes up an enormous chunk of the book. And guess how much I care to relate it all to you? Not at all really. Spell and item lists concern me very, very little.

How to Hack


Jack knew how to hack. He hacked a track back to his shack, then he whacked a plaque celebrating the birth of his nephew Mac before tripping on a crack and falling in a sack. Combat, do you speak it?

Imagine you are playing Hackmaster with your golf team, and suddenly Benjamin gets a wild hare and decides to take a swing at some Orc you’ve been sweet-talking into letting you through the gate. Does he just role-play the event out and let everyone at the table decide how he did? Heck no! He’s got to roll the dice like everybody else. But in Hackmaster, he’s also got to decide his move and then when the GM “counts up” to his initiative, take it. Yes, the GM literally counts from 1 (the first second, as the action moves in seconds) and goes on up until the initiative roll for each person in the encounter is reached. If you are attacked by someone or something before your initiative is counted to, consider yourself surprised. I expect it will hurt. But what does Benjamin roll? A d20 of course! This wouldn’t be a decent retro-clone if you didn’t roll d20s.

Once you’ve been attacked, you get a defensive roll, imagine that. If you don’t have a shield or some defensive item, you’ll be rolling at a disadvantage. Even if you do have a shield, if you fail to defend well enough, the attacker is going to get through and smack you, hard.

Ok, all irreverence aside, combat feels like a more elegant Dungeons and Dragons with one of the differences being your weapon’s speed being taken into account for how many times you can attack in a battle (i.e. on how many “counts” you get to take a shot). The second-by-second action really feels tactical. At this point the combat is explained by an awesome Knights of the Dinner Table comic. I must say, it is quite enjoyable, and it’s a nice combat example.

Included near the back of the book are two low-level adventures, which are a bit short and not terribly fleshed out, but they’ll service. You’ve got your GM advice, monsters, treasure tables, and such all crammed into the back of the book with ads and various other inserts. Which brings me to my next point…

This book has been hacked

The book is a gosh-darned mess. However, that’s not really detrimental to its usefulness. The sections are nice and self-contained, usually not too long. It has a bit of a “wall of text” feel to it most of the time and I get the feeling that if I had to look for a specific rule I would be lost reading paragraphs for a while until I found it. You’ve got full-color Hacklopedia of Beasts mixed in with the basic monsters; various color inserts, comics, and what look like the back covers of various books at the end of chapters or sections; a general tossed-about feeling; and no index! But hey, this is the free version so you get what you pay for. Real fans will pay, and who knows what you might get then? More classes, character advancement, races, heck there’s a nice spreadsheet on page 18 letting you know what cold, hard cash gets you.


Retro-what? Why do I care?

Listen, I’ve been a bit silly with this book, and it’s partly because it all seems so familiar to me (and I don’t want to exhaust you, the reader, with all of the countless details in such a large volume). I’ve played enough D&D and enough RPGs (tabletop, computer, whatever) to where this is another variation of the same ol’ thing. And that’s fine. I think there are some really cool ideas in here, and things that would be great for the person looking for a classic feel with some nice crunch that isn’t ridiculous to churn through. Have you played classic D&D? If not, and you are interested, this is pretty darn close. For the price of free, it’s definitely worth a look.

One of the reasons I’m not really interested in it is because it is another combat-centric, loot-acquiring platform. I mean, that’s pretty much what classic RPGs are about and that can make them really enjoyable, I’m just saying I’m not really interested.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
HackMaster Basic (free)
Publisher: Kenzer & Company
by Robert C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/02/2012 13:11:06
This is an EXCELLENT introduction to the Hackmaster mindset. The FREE Basic download provides an extensive ruleset to this game, so if you decide to upgrade, then you'll know what you're getting. So that means no more hard-earned cash wasted on a fancy boxtop. Thanks K&C.

Sadly, the author takes the haughty approach of insulting other games (and those who play them) while arrogantly bragging about how great his rules are in comparison. If he was attempting to re-write the original AD&D hardbacks, along with Gygax's conceited opinions, then he certainly has succeeded. This is the only blemish in an otherwise exemplary introduction to a wonderful game.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
HackMaster Basic (free)
Publisher: Kenzer & Company
by Larry L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/01/2012 19:50:59
This is FRICKING AWESOME SO FAR. It is HUGE.... The Whole FRICKING BOOK HUGE. I am still reading and studying it. 200 pages. HOODIE-FRICKIN"-HOO.... GAME ON DUDES!!! This RAWKS.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
HackMaster Basic (free)
Publisher: Kenzer & Company
by leo g. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/01/2012 11:30:41
Hoodie Hoo! Hackmaster for free!! What's not to like? Sure there is a fuller rules set with the full product and they want you to try this so you will buy Advanced, but this is actually a complete game on it's own!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
HackMaster Basic (free)
Publisher: Kenzer & Company
by anthony r. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/01/2012 07:51:05
How did Hackmaster get by me all these years without me playing any of the previous editions?! If this new edition (5th) is anything like the past games then I have certainly missed out on a GREAT GAME. I like what I have read so much that I am going to try to get my gaming group to play this instead of our regular 2nd ed D&D game we play. The game system is quite interesting with the "Combat Rose " and the hybrid spell system that uses both spell levels and points for mages. Even the basic abilities make 3d6 seem ok. who needs 17s when 12s will do just fine! Over all HMb seems to be a well-thought out game system that will provide YEARS of FUN

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
HackMaster Basic (free)
Publisher: Kenzer & Company
by Kennita W. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/31/2012 09:52:09
I find the system overly complicated. Needing to multiply by 2/3 (for example) rather than just roll a die and look up a result is a nuisance, as is needing to move/manipulate minis every second (especially annoying due to intention tremor from my MS). I was also annoyed by not being able to easily find basic information like what to do when two people have the same initiative roll. I'd be interested to see how long seconds take, and how long combats tend to run. It seems that with mny combatants on the goard, it could take quite a long time, and/or get incredibly confusing.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
HackMaster Basic (free)
Publisher: Kenzer & Company
by Jerry H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/24/2012 20:17:28
A lot of love and pride went into this product, but it isn't approachable to newcomers. Even experierenced RPG'ers will be confused by some of the lack of clearly defined rules. This may be a product of the overly dense formatting. It's not really different enough from regular D&D to be appealing.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
HackMaster Basic (free)
Publisher: Kenzer & Company
by Gregory W. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/24/2012 18:12:11
I was hoping for a simpler fantasy rules. If you are too, don't look to Hackmaster.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
HackMaster Basic (free)
Publisher: Kenzer & Company
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/19/2012 11:03:38
The original HackMaster game was designed as a parody of contemporary role-playing, inspired by the games played by the characters in the popular Knights of the Dinner Table comics. Even then many gamers saw through the obligatory silliness to a sound ruleset in its own right, and with the advent of HackMaster Basic the game has grown up, to leave aside parody and present a game which is fun to play in itself. Fret not, though - if you do enjoy parody and a bit of silliness along with your fantasy, it's still here! So is the 'luck panel' for rubbing dice on (which never worked with mine, but your experience may differ!)

After some apposite opening remarks setting the context, we begin with Quickstart Rules for those straining at the leash to get playing. It is a simple and straightforward process with the options at each stage explained clearly. Although it will help if at least one person there has some idea of what they are doing, following the process through should enable players new to this game (or indeed role-playing itself) to create a basic character ready for play.

Next comes Chapter 1: Character Creation, which adds a lot more depth for those who are looking for more than a quick and basic start. The process is similar but permits for far greater customisation and choice by allowing players to allocate 'Building Points' to skills and abilities as they fine-tune the character to meet their desires. There's a lot of discussion to inform your choices here, so you will be aware of the ramifications of each decision during the character-building process. This part of the process details abilities and character race.

Chapter 2 discusses Honour. While it is initially derived mathematically from a character's ability scores, it represents how honourable he is and fluctuates during play depending on his actions - just as a real person's reputation is based on what he does and says. Within the game, a player is assessed (mostly by the GM) on how well he adheres to what is expected of his character's chosen alignment, race and class and also how well he portrays that character through role-playing. Alignment is important in HackMaster and this is reflected within the game mechanics by the Honour system. There is plenty of material here to enable you to know what is expected, and how to reflect character actions within the rules.

Part of playing in a way to earn (or at least, keep) Honour is to role-play your character's quirks and flaws, and Chapter 4 is devoted to addressing these aspects of a HackMaster character. All characters are required to roll for a quirk (mental trait such as a habit or a prejudice) and a flaw (some kind of physical defect, such as a prominent scar or an allergy). They are mostly mild in effect (although unlucky rolls against allergens can result in anaphylactic shock) and good role-players can capitalise on them to make their characters come alive - although that flatulent racist might not be the most popular character at the table!

Next, Chapter 4 takes a similarly detailed look at character classes. Choose from the basic four: fighter, thief, mage or cleric; and you'll find all the information that you need about the capabilities and limitations of your chosen class in this chapter. In like vein Chapter 5 examines the skills, talents and proficiences that characters can aquire at creation and develop during play. Using skills, including opposed checks, and the consequences of failure are also discussed. There is a wide range of skills that with careful choices can give well-rounded characters, not mere combat machines incapable of doing anything more than roam dungeons killing monsters and looting their treasure. To futher customise characters, talents - one-off special abilities - can be purchased, thus conferring the ability to blind-fight or an increased healing rate for example. Then come proficiencies, basically you know how to do a particular thing such as swing a sword or use a bow, or how to put on that suit of armour.

Chapter 6: Armour, Weapons and Equipment describes - and prices up - all the gear that the well-outfitted adventurer might require. There is also the all-important details for weapons about damage, reach and the like that you'll need when you come to use them in a brawl. This is followed by Chapter 7's comprehensive listing of mage spells, with all the details of how to cast them and what they actually do which the aspirant mage will require. Spells are listed by level and they also have a cost in Spell Points. Chapter 8 provides the same service for Cleric Spells.

Now characters are fully-created, dressed and equipped with weapons and spells, we move on to the all-important Chapter 9: Combat and learn how everything comes together in a brawl. HackMaster combat is designed to be lethal, and ought to be regarded as a last resort by any character with a desire for a long and happy life. This chapter is designed to ensure that once a brawl starts, a character who has studied it thoroughly should have a good chance of emerging upright rather than feet-first. This is when the marked adversarial nature of HackMaster, GM vs. Players, really comes to the fore: those NPCs are out to get you and the best way to survive is to get them first! It is also designed to be exciting even when you use the game mechanics, a refreshing change from games when you either fight mechanically following the ruleset or gain a cinematic effect by abstracting the rules so that they don't intrude on the action. Everything you need is here, clearly presented in a logical fashion - although it's going to work better if you learn at least the basics rather than have to refer to the book mid-brawl. As an added bonus, the customary 'combat example' comes in the form of a Knights of the Dinner Table comic strip... complete with annotations to show how the rules are applied at each moment.

Chapter 10 deals with miscellaneous rules... this is where you look if you want to fall off a cliff and find out how much damage you take, or how far your lantern light will penetrate a dark cavern. It's a motley assortment of rules for healing, the economy, and even aging effects (if your characters survive long enough to suffer them). That out of the way, Chapter 11 looks at detailed character backgrounds - given the distinct emphasis on ROLE-playing, it helps to know who your character is and where he comes from, as well as what he can do. While much of the information is drawn from die rolls on tables, if you don't care for the result you can use Build Points to amend the details.

Next comes Chapter 12: Dice. Eh? A whole chapter on dice? Well, they are important... and herein is the correct terminology, dice etiquette and a whole bunch of stuff you didn't know you needed to know until you read this! Even if like me you are a mathematician with a good understanding of probability it makes for an entertaining read.

Then you come up hard against a large warning: GAMEMASTERS ONLY BEYOND THIS POINT. Er, this is a rulebook, not an adventure. It's easy to understand why you don't want to read an adventure if you intend to play in it, or even if you might want to do so sometime in the future... but rules? Anyway, don't most people GM and play, rather than stick to one role or the other? If you ignore the dire warnings and threats, GM Chapter 1 describes HackMaster Monsters with explanatory notes showing how each monster operates within the rules especially regarding its combat capabilities. A nice, if basic, collection of fantasy opponents. This is followed by GM Chapter 2 on Magic and Treasure, which includes important details like the appropriate placement of treasure to generate the correct level of reward for your players. There are also details of magic items that may form part of that treasure, so that once characters find them the rules are to hand for their use.

GM Chapter 3: The Game Master which rather than providing the usual collection of useful advice on running games in general and this one in particular that most books present, encapsulates it all in the GameMaster Code of Conduct, which if nothing else is a good set of guidelines to the ethics of GMing. That's pretty much it, the book rounds off with a comprehensive index and a character sheet.

In summation, HackMaster has grown up, shed the more overt parody descending into silliness aspects of earlier books (well, perhaps not where dice are concerned!) and now presents a mature and balanced ruleset for those who want the best of 'old school' gaming blended with true role-playing. Even if you dismissed it out of hand before, it is well worth a look in this incarnation.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
HackMaster Basic (free)
Publisher: Kenzer & Company
by Christopher D. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/16/2012 12:59:59
I would like to write a 10 page review, as the product deserves it, but I don't have time.

The team who put Hackmaster Basic together are absolutely fans of old school role playing games. Not for them is the level-a-minute, MMORPG-tribute RPG. They're not interested in playing Fighter/Mage/Thief/Demigod/Master of All characters. They are interested in rolling up an above-average character, and PLAYING. Fighting and scratching for weapons, armor, and Experience Points. When they hit 15th level, they want to feel like it's really an accomplishment. So when they set out to write a new rule system for the Hackmaster franchise, that's exactly what they did, and it's a wonder to behold.

The other reviewer has explained many of the mechanics, so I won't list them here. What I will say is that combat is fluid, taking far less time than AD&D, and feeling more....cinematic. In a past game, one of the dwarves in my campaign took a swing at a pirate, knocking him back 5 feet into a wall, hitting a candelabra, and nearly setting the place on fire. It took very little time to rule that, and the fact that Hackmaster uses seconds instead of rounds makes perfect sense when running and keeps things pretty simple.

Above all, this game is FUN. Hackmaster basic is a fantastic way to get into the series, and I highly recommend it.And now, aside from the time spent learning the rules, the game is free!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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