HackMaster was first published in 2001 and began life as a parody of D&D. It was the game played by the characters of Jolly R. Blackburn’s Knights of the Dinner Table. It’s not that much of a parody any more, with complete and original rules and set in the Kingdoms of Kalamar.
Kenzer & Company, who publish HackMaster, created the Kingdoms of Kalamar for a D&D setting to begin with. The current basic edition of HackMaster is 231 pages long, has 11 ready-to-play characters, a combat system for quick and hard hitting action, over 70 spells, classic fantasy races and character generation rules. The game is also, currently, entirely free to download from Kenzerco’s website or via DriveThruRPG.
DriveThruRPG also has a number of reviews on the free version of the game. The following is by Christopher Dow;
he 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!
Are you a HackMaster fan? What makes the game work for you?