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HackMaster Basic RPG Paperback – July 1, 2009
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Overall, this book is great if you're looking to get started playing Hackmaster. It'll help you out tons. The further you progress, I would recommend buying other books such as the Player's Handbook and maybe even the Hacklopedia with the descriptions of all the monsters, etc.
The game seems to me to have the potential to be a real rival, especially when Hackmaster Advanced arrives, to the Dungeons & Dragons world. This is an especially good time for a rival system given how badly D&D 4th Ed sucks!
It's a good alternative fantasy RPG if you remember how great AD&D was back in the day, but aren't sold on the radical changes of D&D 4E or the upscaled power of 3.X in Pathfinder.
The Good: Most things are resolved with competing die rolls +modifiers so you do not have to constantly reference charts. Combat is fast intense and fun. Things like Combat maneuvers, counter attacks as a result of crits and fumbles and knockback are fun. Combat uses seconds to measure time and each action has an amount of time it takes to do so a normal combat may run 2 minutes in game time, none of this abstract round = some arbitrary measure of time. Eve though it's a new system it feels like oldschool D&D.
The Bad: There is no index in the book, A PDF copy is available for free on Kenzerco's website. Organization sometimes leaves you scratching your head, in typical Kenzerco fashion some fairly important rules are buried within another rules sub heading with no indication that's where it's located. If you are a fan of HackMaster 4th this should come as no surprise.
All in all though I have no complaints about the actual system, after running the game many times now it's really snappy and is loose enough in some areas for me to make quick and dirty rules or rulings on the fly without being rules lawyered to death.
Even though the book weighs in at an impressive 192 pages (especially for a $20 price tag) you will find yourself wishing there was more. I guess this is a good thing since HackMaster Advanced is in the works and should add everything you could want and more to the game.