Player Character Races

When we talk about “race” in HackMaster, we’re not talking about whether your character is black, white, Asian, etc., we’re talking about what species your character is — dwarf, elf, halfling or human. Racial stock is one of the most important decisions you’ll make in the character creation process and therefore should be made with a great deal of thought and consideration.

Each race is different, has different powers and affects ability scores and BPs differently. Further, each can learn different skills and acquire different talents at different costs, so racial choice will certainly be important later in the character creation process.

HackMaster Basic features 4 Player Character races: Humans, Dwarves, Elves and Halflings. (The HackMaster Player's Handbook adds Gnomes, Gnome Titans, Grel, Half-Elves, Half-Hobgoblins, Half-Orcs and Pixie Fairies to the mix - scroll down to read some details about these additional races.).

DWARVES

Dwarves are a hearty race preferring the alpine beauty of rugged mountains. They are excellent miners and seem built for the task with their short but powerfully built frames. Though they typically dwell underground, it is not in dank warrens. Rather they construct magnificent vaulted caverns that are both engineering marvels and possessed of unparalleled aesthetic beauty.

Often pejoratively dismissed as dour and grumpy, this perception stems from a typical dwarf’s disinterest in gossip and small talk. They are serious, hard-working folk whose interest lies in precious metals and gems. No obstacle is too overwhelming to deter dwarves from delving far beneath the earth in search of these treasures. This frequently brings them into conflict with goblins and other humanoid races. Fortunately dwarves are doughty fighters and well able to hold their own.

Dwarves are not without their own unique foibles. Chief amongst these are their beards that they, both male and female, value highly and tend to groom them very carefully.

Dwarves at a Glance

Ability adjustments
+4 Constitution
-2 Charisma
-2 Looks

Dwarven Pros

  • size Large for knock backs
  • size Medium for HPs (i.e. 10 hp + Constitution + class roll)
  • low light vision
  • Magic Resistance: Dwarves receive a +1 on Saving Throws versus magic for every 3 full points of Constitution
  • Poison Resistance: Dwarves receive a +1 on Saving Throws versus poison for every 3 full points of Constitution
  • One free purchase of the Mining skill

Dwarven Cons

  • Poor reach (effective weapon reach is -1 foot)
  • Character’s native language is Dwarven (must purchase any additional languages)

Preferential talent access
May purchase the following Talents at 50% BP cost

  • Attack Bonus, Damage Bonus, Parry Bonus or Swiftblade (only for Axes or Warhammers)

ELVES

Elves are often perceived as haughty and aloof, unconcerned with the affairs of humans (or dwarves and halflings for that matter). They seem content to seclude themselves within old growth forests pursing esoteric interests.

This preference for detachment is derived from the elven race’s longevity. As beings that do not age once reaching maturity, they are loath to form close bonds with any individual who will grow old and die in the blink of an eye. The affairs of man, though not inconsequential, are viewed in terms of scores of generations. For someone that could be present at the Battle of Hastings and later in life witness the Battle of Britain, intervention is a matter to be given the greatest forethought lest it have unforeseen consequences centuries forward!

Elves are physically smaller than men, averaging 5 feet in height and with a svelte build. Their features are delicate and pleasing and they speak in melodic tones which dwarves absolutely hate. Not unsurprisingly for so fair a race, they are patrons of the arts delighting in fine crafts, sculpture and poetry. Magic, though, is their true fascination.

Elves at a Glance

Ability adjustments
-2 Strength
+2 Dexterity
-4 Constitution
+2 Looks
+2 Charisma

Elven Pros

  • Two free purchases of the Arcane Lore skill
  • One free purchase of the Listening skill
  • One free purchase of the Observation skill
  • One free purchase of the Sneaking skill
  • +2 defense bonus
  • Hiding in natural surroundings bonus
  • Initiative bonus

Elven Cons

  • Size small with regard to HPs (i.e. 5 hp + CON + class roll)
  • Size small for knock backs
  • Character’s native language is Elven (must purchase any additional languages)

Preferential talent access
May purchase the following Talents at 50% BP cost

  • Crack Shot or Greased Lightning (only for Longbows or Shortbows)
  • Attack Bonus, Damage Bonus, Parry Bonus or Swiftblade (only for longswords or short swords)
  • Charm Resistance
  • Less Sleep

HALFLINGS

Halflings resemble diminutive, and frequently portly, humans. They prefer a pastoral existence, dwelling in small farming communities without aspirations for empire. Halflings frequently live alongside or nearby humans but possess none of the latter’s penchant for building grand monuments or castles.

Though they may appear to be rustic simpletons, this assessment is short of the mark for halflings possess an inherent mental toughness belied by their appearance and mannerisms.

Halflings at a Glance

Ability adjustments
-4 Strength
+1 Wisdom
+2 Dexterity
+1 Constitution

Halfling Pros

  • One free purchase of the Hiding skill
  • One free purchase of the Sneaking skill
  • Harder to hit (+4 Defense bonus)
  • Hiding in natural surroundings bonus
  • Initiative bonus

Halfling Cons

  • Poor reach (effective weapon reach is -1 foot)
  • Size small with regard to HPs (i.e. 5 hp + CON + class roll)
  • Size small for knock backs
  • Character’s native language is the local Human tongue (must purchase any additional languages)

Preferential talent access
May purchase the following Talents at 50% BP cost

  • Crack Shot or Greased Lightning (only for Slings)

HUMANS

Humans are the most flexible and adaptable of the races, driven by a deep curiosity about the world around them. There is an almost innate drive that moves men to explore their surroundings with an eye on expanding and exerting their influence and control.

Because of their almost limitless abilities unrestricted by the shortcomings of other races, humans are adept at establishing bases of power and accomplishing things of which members of other races only dream. They also multiply like rabbits and spread themselves like a manifest plague across the lands.

Because humans are the yardstick by which the other fantasy races are compared, they receive no modifiers and few special skills.

Humans at a Glance

Ability adjustments
none

Human Pros

  • Size medium for HP (i.e. 10 hp + Constitution + class roll)
  • May purchase Language (Merchant’s Tongue) at 50% cost

Human Cons
none


Additional Races in the HackMaster Player's Handbook

Grel

The Sarlangans, more colloquially known as Grel (or derogatorily, Grunge Elves), forever lurk in the minds of those who live within their reach.  They are the antithesis of civilization — they are destroyers.  A warrior race, their deep sense of wanderlust constantly brings them into contact with new enemies and new conflicts.  The grel were born to fight, yet refuse to clash en masse or adopt the military disciplines in which their elven cousins have proven so adept.  The grel prefer the elements of fear, surprise and evil cunning rather than careful planning and steadfastness in the art of war.  It comes naturally to them and great armies dread any prospect that involves fighting these proud warriors.
To a grel, Honor is paramount and most of their lives revolve around assiduously improving their Honor (or at least maintaining it).  They are supremely egotistical and always desirous of making an impression on others.  This explains much of otherwise enigmatic grel behavior.  Warriors have been known to turn their back on a capable, armed enemy as a show of disrespect as well as to demonstrate in the boldest manner their own fearlessness.  Tunik El Thek advises, “If a grel turns his back to you, strike the bastard down where he stands or you’ll soon regret not taking advantage of the situation.”

Grel are nearly as tall as humans and like their hated elven cousins, their faces are long and a tad narrow with high cheekbones, while their ears have an elongated helix that gives them their distinctive “pointy” shape. Grel have an average lifespan probably twice as long as humans, perhaps even longer.  Their way of living and constant exposure to violence, however, makes any guess as to lifespan difficult; any grel with honor will die with it before succumbing to age, frailty and shame.

Grel at a Glance

Ability adjustments
-1         Intelligence
+1        Dexterity
-1         Looks

Grel Pros

  • One free purchase of the Listening skill
  • One free purchase of the Observation skill
  • One free purchase of the Sneaking skill
  • One free purchase of the Tracking skill
  • 10 bonus BPs exclusively for Martial Talents
  • Receive Angawa Battle Cry proficiency for free
  • Initiative bonus
  • Superior Hiding in natural surroundings bonus (+65%)
  • Size medium for HP (i.e. 10 hp + CON + class roll)

Grel Cons

  • Character’s native language is Sarlangan (must purchase any additional languages)
  • 2 mastery die modifier for all skills for which intelligence is the sole relevant attribute
  • -1 mastery die modifier for all skills in which intelligence is one of multiple relevant attributes
  • Grel despise the cold and suffer the following penalties in chilly weather or versus supernatural effects:

• a -1/5% penalty to all rolls/checks when the temperature is below 50° F.
• a -2/10% penalty to all rolls/checks when the temperature is below 32° F.
• save at a -4 against Cold-related spells and effects
• suffer an extra 10% damage (rounded up) from cold related spells and effects

Half-Elves

Half-elves (called tel-lathlan in Low Elven) hold the distinction of the rarest case of mixed race beings, with half-orcs being the most common.  Elves and humans have been in contact for millennia, though this engagement has not always been friendly.  Humans seem drawn to the natural grace and artistic nature of the elves, whereas elves find the drive and spontaneity of humans alluring, though childish.  While relationships are short lived by elven standard, and usually result in heartbreak when the human partner dies of old age before the elf even begins to enjoy life, there is sometimes a lasting legacy – a half-elf.  

Half-elves are handsome folk, with the good features of each of their races. The lifespan of a half-elf is usually over a century, but rarely do they reach 160 years of age.  This longevity is an elven trait, though they show the signs of aging as humans. They lack the grace of elves, but are more robust

From their human parent they receive curiosity, ambition, and inventiveness.  Few true elves can understand this ambitious nature, for it is an unusual trait in elves.  Most elves are content to work slowly and steadily toward their goals, but half-elves lack the centuries of life in which to do so.  Many are driven by their split heritage to prove themselves and feel they must work harder among either race to be truly accepted. 

From their elven parent they receive a love of nature and art.

One might think that being the product of two races would have created a blend of cultures.  In reality, they usually adopt the ways of one of their parents, finding a balanced mix virtually impossible to achieve.  Their backgrounds, experiences and training vary depending on whether they have been raised by humans or elves, the latter being vastly more common.

Half-Elves at a Glance

Ability adjustments
-1         Strength
+1        Dexterity
-2         Constitution
+1        Looks
+1        Charisma

Elven Reared Half-Elven Pros

  • d4p bonus Skill Mastery Points in the Arcane Lore skill
  • d8p bonus Skill Mastery Points in the Listening skill
  • d4p bonus Skill Mastery Points in the Observation skill
  • d4p bonus Skill Mastery Points in the Sneaking skill
  • +1 mastery die bonus in artistic skills (Artistry, Musician)
  • Bilingual proficiency (High and Low Elven)
  • Hiding in natural surroundings bonus

Human Reared Half-Elven Pros

  • d8p bonus Skill Mastery Points in the Listening skill
  • d4p bonus Skill Mastery Points in the Observation skill
  • d4p bonus Skill Mastery Points in the Sneaking skill
  • Human Language as native tongue
  • 2 bonus BPs (must be spent on Language skill)

Elven Reared Half-Elven Cons

  • Fewer starting HPs (7 hp + CON + class roll)
  • Character’s native language is Elven (must purchase any additional languages)

Human Reared Half-Elven Cons

  • Fewer starting HPs (8 hp + CON + class roll)

Half-Orcs

Because orc blood successfully mixes with almost every conceivable combination of human, demi-human and humanoid race, orcish facial features run the gamut of possibilities. The pure orc shows signs of a porcine quality, a common trait among the vast majority of offspring, even those of mixed breed. Since male orcs regularly mate with every conceivable race (kept as breeders), their offspring are overwhelmingly a mix.  These descendants are still considered standard orcs, even to the orcs themselves, essentially making the orc a mongrel race.  For reasons not fully understood, the offspring tend to take after the orcish parents, with only a 10-20% chance that the runt has any resemblance to the mother.  Those few that retain some features of their maternal side and born to human mothers are considered half-orcs.  The orc term for these crossbreeds, guruk-vra, translates literally as 'weak-blooded orc', a phrase that is also greatly insulting when used to denote a standard orc.  Humans have far worse terms for such a wretch.

A half-orc character will always have a human mother and have been born and raised in human lands; those born in orc society are generally born into slavery (if male) and kept as breeders (if female) and therefore have no opportunity to become player characters.  Although orcs breed with humans to produce half-orcs, it is never a matter of love.

A few half-orcs can pass as fully human (those with higher Looks and Charisma, generally) and may not even know of their heritage, while others more resemble orcs than humans.These pariahs are generally unwelcome wherever they go.  Half-orcs spend most of their time either with orcs or with humans.  While neither race truly accepts them, they possess racial bonds with each parent race, affording them closer relations than with other humanoids or demi-humans.  However, both human and Orc cultures distrust half-orcs because they remind them of the other’s racial stock.

Half-Orcs at a Glance

Ability adjustments
+2        Strength
-2         Intelligence
-3         Wisdom
+2        Constitution
-3         Looks
-3         Charisma

Half-Orc Pros

  • low light vision
  • One free purchase of the Listening skill
  • Size medium for HP (i.e. 10 hp + CON + class roll)
  • Gain Tough Hide as free talent plus additional free talent from following: Fast Healer, Long Distance Running or Pain Tolerant
  • Free Hiking/Road Marching Proficiency
  • Native Human Language

Half-Orc Cons

  • Everyone hates them (in human and halfling societies, half-orcs suffer a –20% reaction roll penalty; in dwarven, elven and gnomish societies, they suffer a –40% reaction roll penalty)

Half-Hobgoblins

Half-hobgoblins (called “sil-karg” in the Hobgoblin tongue) have been around since before written history, appearing first on the edge of civilization and then creeping into it.  Since before the first wars of Kruk-Ma-Kali, the Krangi have been in close contact with humans.  Through the course of war and other relations, hobgoblins began to breed with their human neighbors.  When a Krangi breeds with a human, the result is a half-hobgoblin, or sil-karg.  Most instances of this mating are an act of violence, and the hobgoblin parent in this case is almost always male.  Sil-karg can also result from the mating of two sil-karg, the mating of a hobgoblin and a sil-karg, or the mating of a sil-karg and a human. 

Half-hobgoblins look like bulky humans, with square features, reddish skin, large hands and strong shoulders.  When not murdered at birth, those raised by humans tend to be unfortunate victims of human bigotry and hatred.  Mankind believes these creatures are unable to avoid turning to evil in a crisis as their hobgoblin taint overcomes them.  Hobgoblin tradition calls them wayward and a threat to civilization.  Neither society welcomes them.

Sil-karg share more similarities with humans than hobgoblins, being born singly instead of in litters and maturing at roughly the same rate.  Most human societies distrust them, but value the impressive physical skills of fully-grown specimens should they live that long.  Owing to these traits, half-hobgoblins make natural mercenaries.  Their power and size make them excellent fighters or barbarians. Given their thuggish inclination, they also excel as assassins.  The talent for sorcery is rare among them; they have little fascination and even less aptitude for magic. Half-hobgoblin clerics are unsurprisingly scarce in human lands as acceptance by the human-dominated church hierarchy is frequently a severe impediment.

Half-Hobgoblins at a Glance

Ability adjustments
+1        Dexterity
-2         Looks
-1         Charisma

Human reared Half-Hobgoblin Pros

  • Size medium for HP (i.e. 10 hp + Constitution + class roll)
  • Low light vision
  • One free purchase of the Listening skill
  • Native Human Language
  • Laborer proficiency

Human reared Half-Hobgoblin Cons

  • Everyone hates them (in human and halfling societies, Sil-Karg suffer a –20% reaction roll penalty; in dwarven, elven and gnomish societies, they suffer a –40% reaction roll penalty)

Gnomes

Gnomes are short, bearded, big nosed tricksters, about the height of Dwarves. They’re short, and they ain’t pretty. They are nimble, durable and love a good joke. In fact, their practical jokes often leave them howling in laughter as others roll around in agony on the ground. They are often extremely skilled at smithing, metalwork and gem-cutting and love jewels and other finely crafted items. They are good hiders, but won’t back down from a fight, having defended their homelands against Ogres and Trolls for centuries.

Gnomes often live in grassy hills and quiet rocky woodlands, and generally keep to their own kind. They have small kingdoms and communities dispersed all over Tellene which include their own complex religious and political institutions.

Gnomes at a Glance

Ability adjustments
-2         Strength
+2        Dexterity
-2         Looks
+2        Charisma

Gnome Pros

  • +4 defense bonus
  • Considered size Large for knock-back purposes against giants, ogres and trolls; gain additional +6 Defense bonus  versus these opponents
  • 2 Attack bonus vs. Goblins and Kobolds
  • One free purchase of the Hiding, Listening, Mining and Sneaking skills
  • gain the Maintenance/Upkeep proficiency for free
  • low light vision
  • empathy with burrowing mammals
  • Hiding in natural surroundings bonus

Gnome Cons

  • Size small with regard to HPs (i.e. 5 hp + CON + class roll)
  • Size small for knock-backs
  • Poor reach (effective weapon reach is -1 foot)
  • Due to their stature, gnomes move at only half the rate of humans
  • Character’s native language is Gnomish (must purchase any additional languages)
  • Mandatory Inappropriate Sense of Humor Quirk and Myopia Flaw (no BPs gained)

Gnome Titans

Gnome titans are similar to their gnomish cousins in most ways except that they are bred to fight and wage war. They are the gnomish equivalent of the Spartans. While they possess the sense of humor of their true gnomish cousins, it’s a mean sense of humor; they love to laugh at the expense of others. Their idea of a good practical joke is putting scalding water down someone’s backside or sewing someone up in their sleeping bag and rolling them down a hill into a sleeping pack of Aarnz Hounds. Titans believe that mercy is for the weak, but they are not interested in slaying opponents so much as humiliating them and causing permanent, crippling physical or psychological damage and scars.

Gnome titans are tough little devils, scrappy in a fight and never surrendering, whatever the odds. They lack the charm of their gnomish cousins but are a tad stronger and tougher. As one might imagine, gnome titans have the mental attitude it takes to be a decent fighter, despite their diminutive size. Because they are so specialized at what they do; gnome titans are very slow to learn new things about themselves and the world around them.

Small but muscular (for gnomes), these tiny scrappers are experts at hand-to-hand fighting. The gnome titans are an incredibly strict, militant race. Their lives revolve completely around honor and combat, precisely in that order. They do not tolerate any blemishes to their reputation, no matter how small, and will respond using the most violent tactics possible. These gnomes demand respect at all times and would rather die painfully than lose even one point of Honor.

Gnome Titans at a Glance

Ability adjustments
-1         Strength
+2       Constitution
-1         Charisma

Gnome Titan Pros

  • Considered size Large for knock-back purposes when fighting giants and giant-kin (trolls, ettins, Cyclopes, bugbears, grevans, gnoles and ogres); gain additional +6 Defense bonus versus giants, ogres and trolls
  • Gain the Attack Bonus of next higher level in class (i.e. a 1st level Gnome Titan uses the Attack Bounus of a 2nd level Fighter)
  • low light vision
  • +4 defense bonus
  • +1 Attack bonus vs. Goblins and Kobolds
  • Groin Stomp proficiency

Gnome Titan Cons

  • Poor reach (effective weapon reach is -1 foot)
  • Character’s native language is Gnomish (must purchase any additional languages)
  • Size small with regard to HPs (i.e. 5 hp + CON + class roll)
  • Size small for knock-backs
  • Due to their stature, gnome titans move at only half the rate of humans
  • Inappropriate Sense of Humor Quirk
  • Only earn 90% of any experience points awarded

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