My group's first annual camping trip is over. It was a short trip lasting from Friday night to Sunday night, but it was a great time. The weather was a little cold at night, but we huddled around the fire for warmth, and had flashlights for light. Rest assured very few dice were lost during this trip!
As I have mentioned previously, the group decided about a month ago who was going to run what game. Our group is a fairly democratic one so those who wanted to put their name in the hat to run a game did so, gave a brief explanation of what they wanted to run, and a majority determined the winner. I volunteered to run a Hackmaster Basic campaign. The group thought enough of my proposal to pick my game and so I set to work fleshing out some of the general ideas that I had outlined.
The setting is one that was planning on using in the future, called Caliburn. I've had Caliburn kicking around in my head for a while and was very glad to get the chance to expand on some of my ideas. I started with my original inspiration, Spirit of Excalibur, a game I loved when I was a kid, and built off of the Arthurian myth. Along the way many other inspirations, such as GRRM's A Song of Ice and Fire and historical sources, played a vital role in the creation of the game. The older I get the more I seem to want to play low magic games with more a more "realistic" and historical feel. That is why I opted to run this campaign with Hackmaster Basic, and why games like Iron Heroes, greatly appeal to me.
Even though HMB has magic that I would consider to be much lower than D&D 3.X or more recently Pathfinder, I found that I wanted to make magic even more rare. To that end I increased the BP cost of the spellcasting classes. Clerics were increased to 50BP and Mage was raised to 75BP.
Flavor wise, I justified these changes by describing the the limited number of clerics and mages in the world. Though there are many priests in the world, Clerics who wield magic are very rare. Because of their limited numbers Clerics are simply too limited to stop things like plagues or other widespread suffering. This was important because I felt like to get the grim and gritty feel I wanted for the game I couldn't have thousands and thousands of Clerics running around. As for mages, I took a route from old Sword & Sorcery sources like Conan, I made them not only rare, but feared and often hunted. Witch hunts are a reality in this setting and secrecy is a nessesary part of playing a Mage.
Here is a quick list of other house rules I used...
- Spend 5BP to get out rolling a quirk or flaw or 10BP to get out of both.
- Since we are playing straight though XP and honor will be rewarded in an ongoing fashion and not in bursts.
- The spear can be used with a shield, but only using the jab option
- Clerics can prepare duplicate spells
- Ability scores increased per the Advanced Hackmaster rules
- While under spell fatigue walking speed is max speed.
- Attacking while spell fatigued is not possible.
- A Mage can end any spell requiring concentration "at will." Such spells also end if the mage dies or falls unconscious/asleep
- Time required to stand depends on armor worn. When wearing no armor it takes one second, two for light armor, three for medium, and four for heavy.
- The Less sleep talent does not help Mages recover their spell points any faster.
- While actively hiding behind a shield jogging is the maximum speed that can be maintained.
- If you desire a skill not in the book speak with the GM about it. Some skills not found in the book that would be useful to someone of the nobility include Heraldry and Etiquette.
This information, along with a lot of additional information I put in a packet for the players. I working on getting a PDF that can be posted here to share. Though I put a lot of work into it, much of the packet's information was not crucial to memorizing prior to the game. Rather, it helped establish a general vision of the setting that made it feel like a real place that the players could interact with. That was a central idea for Caliburn. I wanted it to be a character driven game, a sandbox game, if you will, rather than the type of plot driven game I normally run.
Much of the setting focuses on the realm of Caliburn at large which has been fractured into many smaller Kingdoms after the death of the former King Gareth (the game's eqiveillent of King Arthur). For Basic the players were not playing Great Lords or Knights, but rather residents of a small village in a place called the North Vale. So in a way the setting was like Luke at the beginning of Episode 4. I provided a detaled map of the town, along with information on important persons living in the town in the player packet.
As I have mentioned previously the players created their characters prior to the game. Of the seven players five opted to be fighters, one opted for the theif, and the last chose to play a Cleric. These class selections fit perfectly with the setting, and all was set up to have a succesful game and a fun trip...