HackMaster Logo

HackMaster Example of Play

To further clarify what really goes on during a HackMaster game, read the following example. This is typical of the sort of action that occurs during a playing session.

The group consists of a Magic-user, a fighter, a thief and a cleric. They've hired an NPC halfing torchbearer and are following a treasure map, (see illustration) which is leading them into a rather simple in-and-out dungeon. Hopes for large amounts of booty run high. As we pick up on the action, the party has just entered the dungeon corridor through a set of iron doors (bottom edge of map) and are about to enter the dungeon.

Dungeon Map

Above: Simple in-and-out dungeon Each square is ten feet.

GM: As you push through the ancient doors you find yourselves surrounded in darkness. There's only enough sunlight coming through the doors for you to see about thirty feet (3 squares) ahead.

Fighter: Okay, I nudge the torchbearer forward with my sword. At 5 coppers a day he's definitely going to earn his keep by going first. I tell him to stick close to me and to hold the torch high.

Thief: I'm hangin' back to take up the rear. I wanna watch our backs in case that Spotted Arvanger is still on our scent. I'm not convinced that arrow took him down. Oh, and I'll go ahead and spike those doors open so they can't close on us and trap us inside.

Magic-user: Good thinking. I'm bringing a magic missile spell online - just in case there's trouble ahead. I got a bad feeling about this crawl. It has 'set-up' written all over it.

Cleric: You guys are just being paranoid.

GM: As the torchlight flickers off of the roughly-hewn granite walls you see a passageway going as far as you can see in the light. You hear shuffling sounds as you walk, and you think you see, in your peripheral vision, the shadows of what might be rats scurrying down the corridor.

Fighter: Rats? Hmmmm&... I guess they're not the feral kind if they're moving away. Okay, we'll move forward, slowly. We'll look closely at the walls and floor as we go to spot any secret doors or traps.

GM: Okay. Tell me exactly who's looking.

Thief: I definitely am. I have a 40% chance to spot traps, and secret doors. Do I notice anything unusual?

GM: I thought you indicated you were watching the group's back. Which is it?

Thief: Uh....er.... I'm checkin' fer traps. When the magic-user mentioned having a bad feeling I decided I should check things out.

GM: Uh huh, sure (rolls some dice). Okay, about about forty feet in you notice a section of floor way that looks a bit strange. It doesn't take a genius to realize there's a pit trap. Whoever set it didn't do a very good job of concealing it.

Thief: Ha!! I figured as much. Can we work our way around it?

GM: You can try to hug the walls of the corridor and inch your way around it. But it's tricky business. I'm going to insist that you're all going to have to make a Dexterity check.

Fighter: Okay. I'll send the torchbearer first. That way we'll have a good light source to lead the way. You want me to roll for him?

GM: No, I'll do it (rolls). Okay, the halfling makes it - no problem.

Fighter: Guess I'll go next (rolls). Whew! A 15 - just barely made it. That was close.

Magic-user: (rolling) No problem here. I gingerly walk around the pit.

Cleric: (roll) Same here. I made it.

Thief: (getting ready to roll)

GM: Hold up a second. Just as the thief is about to inch his way around the pit, a deep, guttural snarl comes from behind him toward the door.

Thief: Cripes! Don't tell me... it's that frickin' Arvanger! He followed us didn't he?

GM: You guessed it. Apparently he wants to avenge the death of his mate. He looks none to happy as he cautiously closes the distance between you.

Everybody else: Quick!! Jump across the pit.

Thief: (Looking toward GM) That's not a bad idea. Can I make it?

GM: (Thinking) Oh, man. It's a good ten feet. And you're wearing armor, not to mention a backpack.

Thief:Hey, don't forget I have Jumping as a skill. (consulting his character sheet)

GM: Very good. Go ahead and make your roll and make your calculations.

Thief: (rolls) Okay...kewl. I just leapt 24 feet. Plenty of room to spare.

GM: Hold on there Sparky. You're forgetting that you needed a twenty foot running start. Unfortunately for you the Arvanger gives chase as soon as you begin to run. He has a movement rate of 12 compared to your six. I'm going to rule that he catches up to you JUST as you jump.

Thief: Meaning?

GM: Meaning he sinks his claws into your backpack. The momentum of him jumping on you sends BOTH of you tumbling head over heals into the pit.

Thief: Huh? What the hell are you talking about? He was wounded wasn't he? I'm SURE that arrow would have slowed him down some.

GM: No, sorry. Actually, the pain from the arrow lodged in his side only served to SPUR him on with rage and make him even more determined to catch you.

Thief: Okay, Okay, whatever. I had my shortsword at the ready. As we are falling, I'm going to attempt to lodge it under his belly so that when we hit he'll be impaled on it.

GM: That's a bit of a stretch, don't you think?

Thief: Hey, I'm fighting for my life here. I'm motivated. I should at least have a percentage chance.

GM: Okay. I'll give you a 20% chance of pulling it off. But I'm also ruling that the Arvanger is going to make a biting attack on you as you fall. Any damage will be simultaneous. (roll) Fudge! He misses. Go ahead and roll for yours.

Fighter: I'm sheathing my sword and pulling out my bow. I'll move up to the pit and knock an arrow. If I can get a clear shot I'm going for it.

Thief: (rolls). Cripes! A frickin' 99?? Where the hell are those high numbers when I need them?

GM: Okay, you just fell ten feet to the bottom of the pit. Hate to tell you this but the pit was spiked. I'll roll for the Arvanger --- his hard exoskeleton protects him from falling damage but not from the spikes.

Thief: What? Spikes? Aww, man, I'm a goner.

GM: The spikes puncture you for (rolls 1d10) 8 points of damage.

Thief: Gaaa!!! 8 points! That puts me down to two hit points.

Cleric: Don't sweat it Sparky. Hang in there. I can still throw a cure light wounds on your sorry butt.

GM: Don't forget about falling damage. (quietly) Okay, Lucy (referring to his six-sider), don't let me down (rolls). Uh oh.

Magic-user: That doesn't sound too good.

Thief: (gulp)

GM: Take five more! (snicker)

Thief: Damn. I'm shish kebab.

Magic-user: Hey, don't forget to check for the monster!

GM: -sigh- (rolls) Well the Arvanger bites it! He's dead, too.

Cleric: I break out the rope. I'll lower the halfling and tell him to tie a loop around the Thief's shoulders. Then we'll pull him out.

Magic-user: Wait! This is just a short in-and-out crawl. Might as well leave him there. We can grab him on the way out.

Thief: What?

Fighter: The Magic-user's right. No sense in carrying his dead weight through the entire dungeon.

Thief: C'mon guys! At least pull me out of the stinkin' pit.

Magic-user: Sorry, I can't hear you. You're dead - remember?

Cleric: Okay, I put away the rope.

Fighter: I draw my sword again. We'll continue on.

Thief: Thanks a lot, guys. I'll remember this.

Magic-user: Hey, did you guys hear something?

Cleric: Nope!

Aftermath: This particular adventure ended tragically. The Magic-User was later smothered by a Lurker Within who was hiding in a jeweled snuff box. By the time the Fighter and Cleric had dragged his body back to the pit-trap where the Thief's body lay, they were horrifed to find that the 'Rats' had returned and had commenced to voraciously feeding on his corpse.

As you can see, investing in plenty of character sheets is very important. I hope this example will give newbies an idea of what a typical adventure might be like. You may have also noticed that while the players often questioned the GM's calls and decisions they didn't argue with him. The GM, after all, has final say.