As I mentioned in my last Diary entry, my group has started participating in the Advanced Hackmaster playtest. Obviously I can't discuss specific rules, but I can keep you up to speed on the general happenings in the campaign and my experience GMing it.
As usual I've been bad about keeping my Diary up to date. At this point we have played four sessions and are deep into Frandor's Keep. These entry won't be entirely spoiler free so readers beware. For those of you who have already played Frandor's I'll make reference to the various adventure tittles to make it easier to follow our path.
The first week started with character creation. In any incarnation of Hackmaster, even Hackmaster Basic, character creation is a serious investment. Some people see this as a weakness, preferring character creation to be a quick and easy process that get's you right into playing, but I favor the dissenting viewpoint. As I said I view Hackmaster character creation as an investment. A player invests time and effort into creating his character, this leads to an immediate sense of worth. The character has value to the player, a value he is keenly interesting in protecting. Personally I don't want to run of play in a game where characters are discarded like used tissues only to pluck another from the box without another thought. A player should feel the death of his character acutely, and strike to prevent his characters demise at all costs.
With that little rant over with let me get down to brass tax on how things went down. There are five players in the group and things worked out like this
Donovan Krell - Human Fighter/Mage (Revil)
Leland Bronson - Human Ranger (Prof. Obsscure)
Hendrix Jinn - Human Cleric of Risk (Moox)
Steven Jenkins - Human Thief (FunTrip)
Ivar Greenstone - Human Mage (AngryBear)
Right away you may be blown away that they are all human, I kind of was. One a single Elf or Dwarf among them. However, since Jenkins ended up being racist this all worked out for the best.
I had the group start off a few days march from Frandor's Keep, deep in the wilderness of the Hinterlands. The Hinterlands are a sort of colony of the Kingdom of Therin, but travel back and forth is almost impossible at this point and only small groups are able to make the perilous journey through the mountains. The Hinterlands are kind of an untamed area on the edge of civilization making Frandor's Keep something of a Keep on the Borderlands (har har). The game picked up with their making their last few days of travel to the keep. On the way they were waylaid by a Kobold ambush, but dispatched the creatures with very little effort. Before that happened though the Ranger took a critical hit from a Javelin that penetrated a few times and did some serious damage that would prove important later.
Camping the following night the group was set upon by a rabid boar that nearly whiped out the whole group. The Ranger especially, who was carrying a big wound from the fight with the Kobolds was taken down to but one hit point in the wake of the battle. Eager to rest the party left the boar carcass in their camp and just tried to sleep. The carcass however drew the attention of a black bear...
Now a quick aside. You may think that me introducing this black bear means that I had it in for the party, but that simply isn't so. Rather I have a desire that each character get a chance to shine doing what they do best. That is to say that I present the group with a situation that draws on the talents of one of the characters and allows them to save the party or advance the story in some big way. In this situation it was me giving the Ranger a chance to do his "man of the woods" thing. Let's see how that worked out...
...The bear tossed the boar carcass around sniffed at the party, rearing up on its hind legs to challenge the Ranger, who was closest, for the carcass. The Ranger promptly tattooed the bear with one of his throwing axes.
I think you can guess how this one ended. The rest of the group watched from high atop a tree while the Ranger's dead body was mauled for about 10 minutes before the bear drew the boar carcass away. That's where we ended it.
Character Death Total: 1
I left this one feeling pretty low. I still am not sure what possessed the Professor to behave like a lunatic. However, character creation went well and the other players were happy with thier characters. The party seemed well balanced to me, covering all four basic areas combat, stealth, arcane, and divine. But as you'll see a little less balance might have availed the group better, but more on that next time.