[2018-05-23] HackMaster 4e Part 2: Player Character Ability Scores

Chapter 1
Player Character Ability Scores

Creating a character in HM4e can be an adventure unto itself. Probably not nearly as smooth or fun as Traveller, but an intriguing experience.

A couple negatives off the bat. Making a character in HM4e is an investment in something that may be lost quickly. Be prepared. It’s also convoluted as written and needed errata and clarification.

On a good note, Appendix I has a step by step procedure that is most helpful.

As you may know, HM4e combined 1e with OA, UA, and 2e. At this point we already see the UA and OA influences as there are eight attributes. The basic six done in the 2e order with Comeliness and Honour. For many people, Honour might be new and yeah, they spell it wrong (Honor pronounced Donair for flair).

Unlike modern RPGs, there’s no talk about character concepts but just making a character and watching him develop as you eventually begin to see through his eyes.

The game scoffs at house rules for rolling initial attributes (they call them Ability Scores but I’m not changing) covering such users with the disdain associated with athletes getting caught using steroids. “Be a real hero - roll the dice and let them fall where they may.”

There is an alternate method when you create offspring of your PC. Otherwise, roll 3d6 for the first seven attributes and then % (fractional).

One thing visually is that this book is full. The two column spread is jam packed with text and while the art is fantastic, there isn’t enough of it or white space.

This chapter contains the tables for the attributes ranging from 1 to 25 (Dex table needs errata for 20+) as well as the descriptions of all the things you’d expect from a parody of AD&D.

As well they offer two options for adjusting your rolled attributes. One is the ridiculous method of 2 for 1 and the other is just a sacrifice to gain BPs (Building Points).

What are BPs? We’ll see later, but mostly they’re used for a tacked on skill/ability system.

Honour…. Charisma affects Honour and Honour effects BPs. It is a measure of accomplishments and will lead to something called an Honour Die. The attribute starts as an average of your other seven, rounding up. Of course the example given is wrong and you have to do the math yourself to see.

The example, despite the writer, playtester and editor failing in math, has a good writeup about why the numbers don’t define a good or bad character, just how interesting he might be. The idea being that the best players see the low scores as an opportunity instead of a hopeless character to discard. Not only that but PCs with low ‘stats’ are remembered longer than the spotless characters created by immature gamers who feel they aren’t up to the task of playing a unique hero.

Survivability has less to do with attributes than role-play. Here I can see the writer channelling a Holmesian vibe not normally encountered in AD&D2e (or later). The idea of a flawed character teaching you something about the true nature of heroism.



tmjva's picture

Can't wait until you get flaw creation and the additional character guides, and schooling. (And can the Combatant's schooling tables get fixed?)

Kersus's picture

Do you mean:

"p. 41--48 - The modifiers in the training tables reference the old table numbers,
not the new ones. The corresponding table numbers are as follows:
Table 1 = Table 2C
Table 2 = Table 2D
Table 3 = Table 2E
Table 4 = Table 2F
Table 5 = Table 2G
Table 6 = Table 2H
Table 6a-k = Table 2Ha-k
Table 7 = Table 2i
Table 8 = Table 2J
Table 8a = Table 2Ja
Table 9 = Table 2K
Table 9a-b = Table 2Ka-b
Table 10 = Table 2L
p. 42 – Table 2F: If a small character rolls a 7 on table 2F, they were impaled by
a spear, and must take spear as a proficiency.
p. 43 - On Table 2Ha: Light Infantry, creme de la creme should receive a free
sword proficiency in addition to the other benefits.
p. 43 - Table 2Ha: Crème de la Crème can gain the Stealth talent, not the
Stealthy Movement talent.
p. 43 - On Table 2Hb: Hobilar Infantry, a shabby result gives the character the
Animal Phobia: Horse quirk.
p. 44 - On Table 2Hd: Archer, a result of Excellent gets both short and long bow
proficiencies in addition to the other benefits, just like superior training.
p. 45 - On Table 2Hg: Infantry, Pikemen, a result of Average allows one to
purchase the maintain self-discipline for 1 BP. This is a permanent
reduction; you can buy the skill as many times as you want for 1 BP.
p. 46 - On Table 2Hi: Engineers, creme de la creme gets the complex geometric
estimation skill free and 3 rolls of the mastery die."

tmjva's picture