Saturday, February 21, 2015

Hackmaster 4e & 5e Comparison Part 1

Character Creation


  • Receive BPs as per character class
  • Do not have to buy class
  • Has racial level limits & restrictions
  • 7 stats; includes Comeliness
  • 3d6 for stats
  • Uses fractional ability scores
  • Can trade ability points 2 for 1
  • Can sacrifice 1 ability point for 2 building points
  • Strength: to hit & damage, weight allowance, max press, open doors, bend bars / lift gates
  • Dexterity: defense & reaction adjustments, missile attack adjustment
  • Constitution: HP adjustment, system shock, resurrection survival, poison save, immunity to disease / alcohol, regeneration / healing
  • Intelligence: # of languages, spell level, learning ability, max # of spells/level, illusion immunity, chance of spell mishap
  • Wisdom: magical defense adjustment, bonus spells, chance of spell failure, spell immunity, chance to improve skill
  • Charisma: max # of henchmen/cronies/sidekicks, loyalty base, reaction adjustment, comeliness modifier, starting honor modifier
  • Comeliness: as per Unearthed Arcana
  • Honor: average of all seven abilities plus honor modifier
  • Half Ogres and AD&D sub races for other races, no half hobgoblin
  • Berserker, Cavalier, Dark Knight, Knight Errant, Monk, Battle Mage, Illusionist, Bard
  • Multi-class open to demi-humans only
  • Dual Class for humans
  • HackFighter, HackMage, HacKleric, HackSassin
  • 9 point alignment system
  • Priors, particulars, quirks and flaws largely the same, but not limited
  • 20/10 HP Kicker
  • Proficiencies by class, weapon specialization only available to fighter classes
  • Aldrazar oriented to some degree


  • Receive 40 BPs right from the start
  • Have to buy class based on racial costs--replaces racial class and level limits & restrictions
  • 7 stats changes Comeliness to Looks
  • 3d6 for stats
  • Uses fractional percent ability scores
  • Can leave scores as is for 50 BPs
  • Can switch two scores for 25 BPs
  • Can rearrange scores any way you like for 0 BPs
  • Strength: damage modifier, feat of strength, lifts, carry, drag
  • Intelligence: attack modifier, BP bonus
  • Wisdom: initiative modifier, BP bonus, defense modifier, mental saving throw modifier
  • Dexterity: initiative modifier, attack and defense modifier, dodge saving throw modifier, feat of agility
  • Constitution: starting HP, physical saving throw modifier
  • Looks: charisma modifier, starting honor modifier, starting fame modifier
  • Charisma: BP bonus, starting honor modifier, turning modifier, morale modifier, maximum proteges
  • Honor: average of seven ability scores
  • Half Hobgoblins, less subraces, no half ogre, remove gnomelings
  • Knight and paladin a progression from fighter
  • Fighter Mage, Fighter Thief, Mage Thief open to all races
  • No dual classing
  • 9 point alignment system
  • Priors, particulars, quirks and flaws largely the same but limited
  • Con + Size HP kicker
  • Skills bought with BP
  • Proficiencies by weapon type and attack purpose, purchased with BP varies by class
  • Tellene specific to a great degree


Character creation between the two is very similar. The tone of 4e is more akin to AD&D, complex and somewhat baroque. Little rules hidden here and there can sometimes make quite a bit of difference, i.e. the hit point kicker. 5e is neater, more organized and I've heard players say is a better designed game. I'm not sure I would go with "better" but the organization of 4e seems designed to mimic the original AD&D and it, at times, haphazard organizational structure. AD&D intellectual property like Drow and High Elves, etc. are taken out of 5e, but this is not critical. In fact much of these additions were campaign specific in AD&D, not system specific. They kept Hackmaster intellectual property in 5e such as the Grel aka Grunge Elves, and gnome titans, but removed gnomelings. They have also worked in a strong flavor of Tellene as background flavor and in some cases structure to the 5e game. 4e flavor was slightly geared towards Aldrazar, but Tellene, its Gawds, its race names and much more are written into 5e very completely. 

As for whether Character Creation changes would deeply affect KODT and its ethos--I think the effect would be minimal. There are some flavor bits, such as the temporary exclusion of restricted HackClasses and the like, that will likely find their way back into 5e via the GMG, subsequent splat books, KODT itself, Hack Journals or GM fiat. I do keep wondering if BA Felton and his knightly crew will switch campaign wurlds in the near future, but if they do or don't the ethos wouldn't make much difference. There is a bit more humor woven into 4e which can come out as humor in KODT, which I hope we keep in the comic for the sake of KODT and its powerful funny bone. In fact it wouldn't hurt in 5e either.

There is a danger of making 5e more "serious" than KODT really is. Tellene is a world class campaign, but humor isn;t it's strong suit necessarily. Aldrazar is also world class, but it has some nice absurdities that make it seem more "suited" to KODT. Not that KODT can't adopt Tellene, we'll just have to be careful to strike the balance between a serious "enough" game in a serious "enough" world to safeguard the magic and power that is KODT.

Next time: Combat--the real difference. 

No comments:

Post a Comment