March 5, 2012

Flurry of HackMaster Requests

One of the side-things I do is moderate part of the Kenzer & Company forums.  The discussions there can get a bit interesting from time to time and some not so much.

With the new HackMaster Players Handbook going to press any day now there has been a flurry of activity trying to help the D-Team get things together for printing.

Some more amusing "work" has been reading some of the things people want to see in "their" game.  There has been some bitching, griping, and moaning about how this rule makes no sense or how "nerfed" a revised character class has been.

I'll freely admit I haven't been immune to this process.  In one of the updates they dramatically changed the favored weapon of my current Sunday Night PC.  Historically the Warhammer, like many weapons, ranged greatly in size.  HackMaster has added the Greater Warhammer to the weapon lists.  It was 60% longer than the "regular" Warhammer and did a d8p+d10p damage instead of 2d6p.  It was also twice as slow.  I'm not one to do the damage per seconds calculations as if Hackmaster was a computer game, but when they changed the Greater Warhammer I had to do just that.  The D-Team had already figured out and approved of the Greater Warhammer in HackJournal, their quarterly publication.  Some tweaks are to be expected as things get refined, but what they did was make the weapon 40% larger than it was before, make it two handed, and tweak the damage to 2d8p+3.  It was the same size as a Long Sword but slower and now required two hands.

I did complain about it because it wasn't a tweak, it was simply a whole new weapon with an old name, a weapon that didn't exactly fill a niche.  The Long Sword and the "regular" Warhammer were better in just about every way.  There was no reason for anyone to want the Greater Warhammer.  I was able to convince my GM to let me swap out for the Warhammer and then the D-Team switched the stats back.  Even though statistically the Warhammer is a better weapon than the Greater Warhammer, I was happy that it was fixed and I could restore my PC.   Balen Lionsbane was originally named Balen Shield-Splitter and my whole character concept was about potential damage to an opponents shield.  Yes, there are better weapons that would help my PC succeed in combat, but when it came to weapon choice I had a theme I was trying to follow.

Now I was lucky in getting the D-Team to respond to my request, probably because I was able to show that the changes didn't add anything to the game.  The D-Team are largely engineers by training and they really get behind the math when calculating  game mechanics.  Potential changes need to make sense and support some semblance of game balance.

Some players complained that a particular spell was too powerful when/if a Mage dumped everything they had into that one spell.  Aside from the fact that this one spell would come at the cost of being able to do anything else unless the caster was high level, there wasn't much in the argument aside from players thinking it was unfair.  The requests were to take the spell back a notch, which may "feel" right, but isn't necessarily promoting balance.  I did notice that the spell description, as it pertains to being augmented, broke the specified rules regarding "bumping up" spells with spell points.  Hopefully that will be remedied which should make people happy.

As we get down to the wire, some of the last-minute stuff is a bit much in my opinion.  There are some who would like to see "optional" rules to introduce gender differences in character creation.  I just don't get this because it's already been proved that making female PCs "suffer" imbalances just ticks off the female gamers.  HackMaster Basic had the "Sean Connery Effect" where as PCs aged, the women lost some of their looks, but the men didn't.  Really?  I could see some men aging gracefully, just as there are some women that do, but to issue a blanket statement that all women get uglier with age and all men don't......I have to call BS.  This has been fixed in the new edition as a purchasable talent.  What a few are advocating now is that men and women get to swap out part of a attribute stat to account for gender differences.

I get that stereotypes exist for a reason and there is usually at least a grain of truth in there somewhere.  Even if we could have a blanket statement that women are X% weaker then men and X% smarter, does that need to be expressed in a fantasy game where statistics are driven by a combination of die rolls and building point expenditures?  Do female adventurers accurately depict the gender as a whole in the fantasy setting?

I for one want to stop talking about the game and just enjoy it when it comes out.  At this point if there is something that I can't live with or live without we can house-rule it.

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