Posted in: Character Creation Challenge, Role Playing Games

2024 Character Creation Challenge Day 2: Hackmaster Basic

For day 2 of the #CharacterCreationChallenge I’ve elected to use Hackmaster Basic published by Kenzer and Company. This game was the system used in the RPG inspired comic series “Knights of the Dinner Table” and appears to be a D20 retro-clone.

Now something I have to caution here. The physical copy that I have is a promotional book from 2009. It has a red stamp on the inside stating “not for sale”. Someone was giving them away online (I don’t recall which social media service it was) and I was able to snag a copy. The DTRPG link above for Hackmaster Basic allows you to pick up a free copy of the rules from 2012. From what I’ve seen, the character sheet is different (I scanned mine in to use). So if you grab the book, don’t be alarmed if anything looks different from what I describe below.

My physical copy is 192 pages long which includes the two page character sheet found in the back. There are quickstart rules with character creation on page 7 and chapter one has more detailed character creation rules on page 13. I’m going to pretend that we are playing a quick one-shot game and we are all rolling characters from the quickstart. I’ll then compare the later rules afterwards.

As with most games, you start making a new character by rolling your ability scores. For Hackmaster they are STRenght, INTelligence, WISdom, DEXterity, CONstitution, LooKS and CHArisma. I’m instructed to roll 3d6 plus a percentile down the row for each ability score. DEX was a good roll at 15/41% but WIS sucked at 6/11% (so not a Cleric) but the other scores were pretty average.I’ve written these down.

Next is the starting honor for the character. Take the ability scores above and turn them into decimals and add them all together. For example, I rolled and 11/51% for the STR ability score, this would be counted as 11.51. Once I’ve added them together, round it down to the nearest whole number and divide that result by 7. This resulted in an Honor score of 10.

Now I get to choose the character class. Yea, as you probably guessed, it will be a Thief. According to the quickstart rules, I get to add 2 to my DEX score.

For the race, I selected Human. Simple and easy. This lead me to the initial Hit Points. I get 10 for being Human and I add my CON score (not the percentage) plus a 1d6 (Woot rolled a 6) for my class for a total of 26.

There are proficiency and skills in this game. The quickstart rules instructed me to write down the base skills for the Thief and roll for some additional skills. The additional skills were Appraisal (gems) and Fast Talking. I wrote these down. For the skill mastery scores, I look up the related attribute (or lowest if there is more than one) and roll a d12 and add it. This is a percentage score when done. So for Sneaking I added 17 + 5 (that I rolled) for 22%. I filled in my skill mastery scores.

The next step is to roll for one quirk and one flaw from the provided charts. These are both percentages and I ended up with a Superstitious quirk and a flaw of Flatulence. Heh, it could be amusing. I’m not certain what superstition he would have. I’d have to think about it or let it come up while roleplaying.

In the quickrules, the equipment is determined by the class. I wrote these items down. Next comes the combat statistics. The book actually has us reference the regular character creation rules for this information. The quickrules didn’t make much sense, so I just looked at the regular character creation rules for this information. That still didn’t make much sense either, so I just bumbled my way through this.

For the final tweaks, they wanted me to note what I had rolled for HP (luckily I had that written down above) the luck points (that apparently only a thief gets) and the Threshold of Pain. This number is half of my HP rounded down (so 13). If I get hit for 13 or more points of damage in one blow, the Hackmaster can have me roll a trauma check to see if I succumb to pain. What ever that is.

The last item is to pick a name. I’m going to name this character Cid the Kid. Even though he’s not a kid, the nickname has thrown a few towns guards off of his trail in the past.

I did a quick flip though the character creation chapter. You can re-arrange your attributes if needed, but it may cost you later in the creation process. The different races have racial ability modifiers. You pick your skills through build points (which is lowered if you re-arranged your scores). There’s a little bit more crunch in this than I was expecting. Here is the character sheet.


From the looks of the sample PDF at DriveThruRPG, there is not a quickstart character creation section in that version. So if you download the free PDF you’ll be using the regular character creation rules.

I liked that I could use the d12 in the character creation. That is a die that doesn’t get a lot of use in most systems. I disagreed with the use of the lesser attribute number when finding the skill mastery score. Perhaps an average of the two scores should have been used instead. It would involve more math, but would have made it more reasonable IMHO.

I can see why the quickstart rules were pulled from the 2012 version. I don’t know if they really helped since you still had to refer to the character creation chapter anyway. Now that I’ve completed the character, I wouldn’t mind seeing how a session goes in play. As for using or homebrewing for this game? Like FantasyCraft, I wouldn’t turn down an opportunity to play, but there are other games that I may reach for first if I was running a game.

Additional Notes:

A was able to add a ton of blog and message board links to the Character Creation Challenge page. I’ve also started noting who has participated in past challenges as well. Please give them a visit and read the good stuff that they have provided. For you Reddit /rpg visitors, I’ve created a thread there for others to post their characters as well. Just another option.

There is a very active Fallout 2d20 RPG community online. I was able to get some good feedback on my Day 1 entry for the system. They thought I did a pretty good job using just the rule book. I was told that the TN and Tag portions of the weapons on the character sheet is for the player reference. I would add “Small Guns + AGI” Since I could only tag one more skill as the character advances, I should re-evaluate my tagged skills. Apparently there are not a lot of vehicle rules in the RPG at this time (come to think about it, I don’t recall seeing a lot of vehicles in the video games either). Another suggestion given to me was taking several of the single points I spread across several skills and combine them into a specialty and to add the DR scores that my vault suit provides. I was grateful for the advice that I would have picked up during a session zero.

Coming Up Next:

White Star Galaxy Edition

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