! Kenzer and Company
has finally released 4th Edition Hackmaster, the game played in J.R. Blackburn
's fabulous Knights of the Dinner Table
The game's mechanics are totally based on 1st and 2nd edition Advanced Dungeons and Dragons. Rumor has it that K&C acquired the license to the material by not suing Wizards of the Coast over the fact that several KODT strips were reprinted without permission in the Dragon Magazine CD-ROM Archive, but that's really neither here nor there. Since Hackmaster truly is a heart and soul spoof of AD&D, there's really no way to do it right without using the AD&D system, and personally, I don't think the game could work without using that time-honored system.
On to the book itself. The development team arranged the book to remain true to all of the references in the KODT strip, right down to the appendices. Here's a quick breakdown of the book.
*Introduction: Organization of the book, how HackMaster works, required materials for play.
*Chapter 1: Ability scores - how to generate them, what they mean, and how the numbers affect game play.
*Chapter 2: Player Character Races - prerequisites required to play a demihuman race, descriptions of the races, and their abilities.
*Chapter 3: Player Character Classes - Class groupings (fighter, magic-user, cleric, thief), descriptions of all playable classes, and a peek at the prestige HackMaster classes (HackFighter, HackMage, HacKleric, HackSassin).
*Chapter 4: Character Priors and Particulars - Description of Build Points, and character background generation tables.
*Chapter 5: Alignment, Honor, and Fame - Lengthy discussion on the Honor stat, and description of character alignments.
*Chapter 6: Character Quirks and Flaws - Tables for Quirk and Flaw generation, their corresponding Build Point bonuses, and descriptions of the Quirks and Flaws.
*Chapter 7: Skills, Talents and Proficiencies - Skill types and how to use and improve them, talents, and weapon proficiencies. Oddly enough, this chapter does not include a list of skills or talents, or how to obtain them. This information is in appendices F, G, and H.
*Chapter 8: All That Glitters: Money and Treasure - Everything you need to know about getting and spending money, and quick descriptions of the kinds of treasure you might find.
*Chapter 9: Goods and Services - What you can buy and where to buy it. Also includes encumbrance rules.
*Chapter 10: Magic - Describes the schools of magic, how to learn new spells, and how spells are cast.
*Chapter 11: Experience - Description of the experience point system used, and how to advance in level.
*Chapter 12: Combat: The Art of Hack - All about combat in Hackmaster. 'Nuff said.
*Chapter 13: The Adventure and the On-Going Campaign - The organization of your average adventuring party, types of adventures, and how to prepare for adventures.
*Chapter 14: Encounters - How the GM is going to kill your character. Also describes surprise rolls.
*Chapter 15: NPCs - What they are, and what they do.
*Chapter 16: Time and Movement - The difference between game time and real time, measuring time in game, and how you move.
*Chapter 17: Vision and Light - Rules for seeing things.
*Appendix A: Spell Lists - Alphabetical, divided by magic-user spells and cleric spells.
*Appendix B: Notes on spells - Describes how to read the spell descriptions in the following appendices.
*Appendix C: Magic-User Spells - Descriptions of all magic-user spells, divided up by level (Cantrips through 9th level) and listed alphabetically.
*Appendix D: Cleric and Druid Spells - Cleric spells, 1st through 7th level, and then Druid spells, 1st through 7th level.
*Appendix E: Spell Planner - Massively useful section. The entire spell list is divided up by level, listing the name, school, range, components, duration, casting time, area of effect, and saving throw where applicable for each spell.
Five boxes are located to the left of each spell name, and text beneath the spells instruct you to underline all spells available in your spellbook and to check a box for each spell memorized.
*Appendix F: Skill, Talent & Proficiencies - Tables listing all skills, talents and proficiencies, and their relavent costs, etc.
*Appendix G: Skill Descriptions - Descriptions of all skills, from the arcane and academic to various combat procedures. My favorite skills: Dig Hasty Grave and Pimp Slap.
*Appendix H: Talent Descriptions - Descriptions of all talents available.
*Appendix I: Step-by-Step Character Creation Procedure - Crib sheet for character creation.
*Appendix J: Step-by-Step Advancement Procedure - Crib sheet for character advancement.
*Appendix K: Character Sheet - Poorly placed in between two sections, so the only decent way to photocopy it is to cut it out.
*Appendix L: All Things Dice - Mostly humorous section, designed to introduce neophytes to the various dice they will be using, along with all etiquite involved. It includes a recognition chart, instructions for "fame rubs", the care and maintenance for dice, and proper dice rolling procedures.
*Appendix M: Official Map Symbols - Self-explanatory.
*Appendix N: Glossary - List of terms used in the book. What else would be in the glossary?
*Appendix O: HMA Bylaws - The HMA, or HackMaster Association, is an organization created to keep HackMaster standard all across the nation. Woe to those who use house rules when the HMA comes to call. This section includes all bylaws in the HMA, including creating local groups, becoming a GM, playing in tournaments, and a bunch of other stuff. Another mostly humorous section.
*Appendix P: Index - It's an index. What more do you want?