[2018-05-17] HackMaster 4e Part 1: Intro to the Player's Guide

Opening the book and seeing the date 2001 gives me an odd feeling of how that shouldn’t seem so long ago and yet the battle of HackMaster does seem well in the past. It’s a game that ran its course and veered off in a completely different direction than where it initially travelled. It ended. Debate away.

The inside cover has ads for the GMG, HoB (over 1600 creatures), Quest for the Unknown and Little Keep on the Borderlands.

Of those, B1 Quest for the Unknown is easily the greatest gem. It took a fantastic classic adventure and made it even better. I’ve used it more than any module.

Inside the opening page is an area for signatures to be used to rub your dice against for dice purging and luck charges. It never occured to me over the years to actually get any of those signatures although I’ve met a few of the Kenzer team. There is a Reality Check and Foreword, both of which were so funny that they alone sold me on the book purchase in a Michigan WOTC store. The same place that taught me the Wheel of Time CCG completely wrong.

At its core, 4e is a spoof of AD&D. This parody humour was the core of what the game could achieve, and veering in any direction away from it would spell it’s demise and the creation of some 5e game that bears little to no resemblance to any of the many things that made 4e work.

There’s an in game joke next that’s worth the read introducing the game from Hard Eight. Here we see the two realities of HackMaster. There’s the game itself, and the game as used in KODT. It’s not really an important distinction however it’s all part of the fun and tone of this rulebook which makes it a joy to read.

Following that is a page of errata I bound into the book and man, this book has a ton of errata. That part alone makes having ‘extra’ copies for your players a difficult and long process. You can’t even create characters reasonably correct without the heady errata.

Then we have 5 pages that are the Table of Contents. Impressive and a joke unto itself but also very helpful in finding things.

Welcome to HackMaster, the introduction to the game. Again, this is a fantastic read which most notably has a section on the use of the male pronoun. This book came out at a time when RPGs were forced to either use alternating male/female or just female pronouns to avoid vilification. This was well before the requirement of gender neutral speak. It would be interesting to see what they would say now if HackMaster in this form had continued.

HackMaster makes comments on it’s fictional history as a game as if this was the 4th edition of a game instead of a 1st. Indeed it could be seen that way, as a spiritual successor to AD&D2e as well as recovering from D&D3e to get the roots of the AD&D game (certainly not the roots of D&D itself).

Another part of this parody is the idea of mastering the game. Improving toward being in a Name Level Group, dice etiquette and more.

To be continued….