April 28, 2012

Origins Playtest with Miraculous Dice Roll

Origins 2012 HackMaster Playtest
Our first Origins 2012 playtest was cut short due to a couple of unavoidable factors, so we picked things up last night.  Were were short a player, but had a schedule to keep so one player had two PCs.

At the conclusion of the session it occurred to me that I have a pretty decent group because they pretty much maxed out the available experience points.  I wasn't expecting them to actually take some of the actions they did and I wonder if some of that is due to the break between the 1st encounter and the subsequent five.

I ended up killing two PCs.  It isn't that glorious of a victory as a GM because I screwed up a rule about critical hits.  It has been a while since the critical hit rules came out in HackJournal and of course I got them wrong.  I think I may have managed to kill one PC if I got it right, but I'd have been just as fortunate to just severely maim the fighter instead.

As a GM I'm more interested in just hurting a PC really bad as opposed to killing the PC, and this is why:

Skulls collected from PC deaths at my tables over the years
My GM Kill sheet, all but the last row is HM4
An injured PC takes up more resources than a dead one.  The more damage I can do to the party without killing a PC, the closer I can get to a Total Party Kill (TPK).  Also, the closer I can get to killing the party without doing so the  more sweet the victory for them should they prevail.

The thing about HackMaster, or at least earlier editions of HackMaster, is that there is a little antagonism between the GM and the players.  Many people hate this aspect of RPGs and loathe it when talking about HackMaster, but I love it.  I'm not trying to kill the player's characters, I'm just trying to set up situations that are challenging for them.  As a GM I want the players to prevail, but I'm just as happy when they fail because it is all about the experience.

After killing the fighter and the thief the priest and mage decided to carry on.  They could have turned back and escaped.  Although it was supposed to seem like they were trapped in the dungeon, the way they treated an NPC gave them an ally that would have helped them escape once night fell.  They knew that guy had somebody coming to rescue him and they could have tried to piggy-back on that attempt.

Instead they carried on....and I got the mage down to 1 hit point.

As we played last night I really saw how there is simply no way that the rules can cover every little thing and how much the GM has to simply make things up on the fly.  Yes, we might have rules for lots of things but it is impossible to write down to the minutia.  Because of this, it is really impossible to write an adventure down to the level to make everything standard across multiple tables.  In the past, that was something we attempted to do for the sake of "fairness" when holding a tournament.

Alteration of the HackMaster Encounter Worksheet from Jolly BlackburnI am so past tournament "fairness" now as I think it is a fallacy.  Instead the people playing the game should be trying to have fun and succeed meeting all of the challenges.  The GMs need to have the flexibility to run things as they see fit and adapt what is hopefully a set of challenging situations to the situation at hand.  Each table playing the adventure is an island unto itself.

I've tweaked Jolly Blackburn's adventure booklet a bit to make it easier for me to use for "tournaments" and while I don't think it is making it much easier to write a scenario, it is making it much easier for me to run a scenario.  As a GM I don't feel the need to know every little thing in order to play.  The players find a chest and ask if it is locked or what is in the chest and I don't know because it isn't in my adventure.....no problem....run with it.  Locked, unlocked.....it doesn't matter.  What is inside?  Three green towels and some toenail clippings.....

Good times.

Best dice manufacturer around
I should mention that while playing last night something just about miraculous happened.  I was rolling my d4's and one of them landed on it's point.  Now I'm using Gamescience dice and they have a little flat triangle where the point would be on "lesser" dice.

During a critical hit damage roll one of my dice landed on its point and stayed there.  It was a OMGWTFBBQ?! moment for me and I managed to snap a couple of pictures.

Amazing d4 roll
Do I count this as a 3 or a -3?

d4 landing on its point
No touching here!

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