September 22, 2012

Creating HackMaster Pre-Gens

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A question I see pop up now and then is "How do I create HackMaster pre-gens?"

I've tried to answer how I create pre-gens (pre-generated characters) for HackMaster, but the general advice is applicable to other gaming systems as well.  You'll just have to make some adjudications with the instruction specifics.

I think I've easily made 100 pre-gens in my day, not all of them for the current version of HackMaster.  I've done everything from taking my home PCs and slapping another name on it to creating a bank of pre-gens from scratch as if they were my home PCs.

Let me start by saying that creating pre-gens from scratch as you would home PCs is laborious and a waste of your time and effort.  You always need more pre-gens than players and you need a good mix of skills and class abilities to offer your group.  The type of game you are running really factors into the pre-gen creation.  If this is a one-off you may need to have PCs tailored to meet the adventure requirements.  I've been in several tournaments where there was only one pre-gen per player.  That might work fine for an established tournament, but sucks if you are having a general convention game and it is detrimental if you are running an open game to draw up interest in starting a new group.

Keep your end-usage in mind when you create these pre-generated characters and things should come out ok.  There are some general guidelines I'd suggest and I'll note some tweaks for specific uses.

General Pre-Gen Creation Guidelines

    A stamp marking some better-than average pre-gens
  • Pre-Gens shouldn't suck- if the pre-gens are bad, the players won't be enthusiastic about the game.  That being said, I think it is ok to have a few less-than-stellar pre-gens in your offering because some people like to play a PC that has to struggle.  Also, if there are some lemons in your pre-gen pile, people might feel better about picking up a more "normal" pre-gen.
  • Pre-Gens shouldn't outshine home PCs-depending on your game, you may have players show up with their home PCs.  Depending on your game (like a convention demo) it might be helpful to have some experienced "ringers" sitting at your table that can help the newer players.
  • Make sure the pre-gens meet your game needs-if you are running a special adventure that requires the use of a certain class or skill, make sure a fair number of pre-gens have that ability.  One thing I'll do is give everyone playing one free die roll in any skill of their choosing.  This way every PC had a chance to get that one needed skill that would make things useful.
  • Remember these are only pre-gens-spending a lot of time on them is wasteful.  "Close enough" is good enough.
  • Make sure you mark these pre-gens-I've seen pre-gens taken home (which is ok) by players and then tried to pass off as home-PCs.  While it should be up to the home-table GM, just do everyone a favor and mark the pre-gens appropriately.
My creation method is actually pretty simple:
  1. Start all stats off at a set amount-12.50 works well for me, but you might want to start off at 13.00.
  2. Choose race and class-don't worry about BP expenditure.
  3. Apply racial adjustments and then raise or lower one stat by a corresponding opposite amount of another stat.
  4. Choose one quirk and one flaw-cherry-pick or roll randomly.  Do not award any BP or apply any stat adjustments.
  5. Give each pre-gen 25 BP
  6. Spend BP, including bonus BP from high stats, on STPs (skills, talents, proficiencies)
  7. Roll Hit Points*
  8. Cherry-pick special items-spells for Mages for example.
  9. Equip character-just give them what ever equipment you want them to have.  I suggest everyone gets a back-up weapon of some type.
  10. Give each PC a male and female name.
  11. Write everything down on the PC sheet.
Old PDF Stamp of Mine
That is it for 1st level PCs.  For higher levels, just give (and spend or save) 15 BP per level, adjust ability scores by the the appropriate die rolls* and give special items.  I recommend for every odd level you give a lasting special item (weapon, shield, etc.) and for every even level you give a disposable special item (scroll, potion, etc.)  As for money, just give everyone a few silver and some copper.  If they need or want something special the table GM can just let them have it if it seems reasonable and not have it it if doesn't.

*One thing I've done to make putting together pre-gens quickly is to assume every die roll is 1/2 of the max +1.


Mel G said...

Hi there! THANK YOU SO MUCH for the list on how you quickly generate characters. It will be really helpful for my games.