Thursday, June 25, 2015

Advanced Hackmaster Combat

Probably the part of Hackmaster that gives me greatest pause is the combat. It's new and different and I want it to go smoothly if I should ever GM. This post is more a help to myself to outline the critical rhythm of HM combat and the flow of actions I should keep in mind as I adjudicate combat at the table. Hopefully you interested in HM combat will also find it useful ...

Hackmaster Combat Resources

I do not propose to re-invent the wheel here. There are numerous gamers more ambitious, intelligent and organized than I who have contributed greatly to the growing pool of HM resources. I have drawn heavily from the following resources:
Flow of Hackmaster Combat

So will consider the general situation in which my PCs are going to be coming up on some baddies. The situations can vary widely, but generally remember to:
  1. Have each side make observation and listening checks once it is possible they might notice each other.
    1. If no one notices each other then as soon as they are in sight roll initiative
  2. If it's an ambush--follow ambush protocols
  3. Roll initiative based on circumstances d4 to d12 generally
  4. Initiative proceeds on a count up basis 1 to end of combat
  5. Surprise is nice in Hackmaster, as it results from initiative rolls
    1. Characters & Monsters are surprised until their initiative count up starts
    2. Surprise can be mitigated by certain actions
  6. Encounter Distance is determined by distance at which both parties notice each other
  7. Movement and Time are important in Hackmaster, and are adjudicated as per movement, count up and actions in combat rules
  8. Ranged Combat follows base rate of fire chart for speed
    1. Range and Size modifiers can alter rolls
    2. Generally defenders get d20p for defense if moving, d12 if standing still
    3. Defenders with shields block missile attacks if the defender is using their shield and rolls greater than or equal to their shield cover value
  9. Once enemies are within 5' of each other plus their weapon reach they are engaged
    1. The attacking opponent with the longer reach attacks first generally rolling a d20p plus modifiers
    2. The defending opponent rolls a d20p-4 unless they have a shield in which case it is d20p
    3. The defending opponent with the shorter reach attacks the next second
    4. Subsequent attacks follow weapon speed for each opponent, adding their speed to their initiative count up
    5. Damage is administered by rolling weapon damage plus modifiers and deducted by any damage reduction due to shields, armor or other factors
    6. Shields give defense bonus, damage reduction, and missile cover
    7. Defending rolls of less than ten greater than the attacking rolls are shield hits and take 1/2 damage plus full modifiers
      1. This may cause shield failure as per shield damage chart
    8. Weapons and equipment can break, though most average and better quality only on fumbles
    9. Armor reduces damage by its DR value and certain situations like penetrations and criticals can cause 1 armor HP loss
      1. 10 Armor HP = 1 DR reduction in armor value
    10. Fighting Styles might modify attack and defense rolls and initiative
    11. Damage taken of 5 points per size category may result in a knockback as per knockback rules
    12. Fighting multiple opponents can reduce defense rolls
    13. Damage greater than Threshold of Pain level requires a trauma check
    14. Helpless opponents get 1d8p defense rolls
    15. You may coup de grace according to coup de grace rules
    16. Attack rolls of 20 always hit
    17. Defense rolls of 20 always cause a miss
    18. Ties of 20 goes to the character with the greater modifier
    19. Critical hits roll on critical hit table in GMG
    20. Near Perfect Defense = 19
    21. Perfect Defense = 20
    22. Attack roll of 1 and is less than defenders roll is a fumble, roll on fumble chart in GMG
    23. Defense roll of 1 the attacker receives an automatic free attack the next second
    24. Death and Dying
      1. 0 HP = near death but stable
        1. d20p + Wisdom save vs d20p + 11 to stay conscious
      2. Negative HP = dying
        1. Every 10 seconds make con save d20p + Constitution + current hit point total vs. d20p + 11
          1. Fail = lose 1 HP
          2. Success = no HP loss 
        2. Every 10 seconds make wis save d20p + Wisdom save vs d20p + 11 to stay conscious
      3. Negative HP > 1/2 Constitution = death
    25. Spellcasting in combat
      1. d4p seconds to ready components
      2. If attacked during casting mages lose spell and spell points, clerics must restart spell next second
      3. Spell caster rolls spell attack roll d20p + level + modifiers (incl spell points)
      4. Defenders roll d20p + level + ability modifiers
      5. Defender must roll greater than attacker
      6. Generally spell damage ignores armor
      7. Spell fatigues is 5 seconds plus casting time of spell during which time spell fatigue effects are in place
    26. Clerics may choose to turn or command undead as per turning rules
    27. Players may spend Honor in combat to affect rolls
    28. Morale Checks may be called for in certain situations as per morale check table
    29. Advanced/optional rules cover
      1. Shooting into melee
      2. Special combat moves
      3. Max number of opponents
      4. Fatigue
      5. Called shots
      6. Unarmed combat
Writing it out this way helps me immensely in grasping the "flow" of Hackmaster combat. Wrapping your brain around the general back and forth is much easier than trying to modify your existing notions of D&D style combat. Generally speaking most HM rules are based on common sense. What you think would happen is likely what does happen, and understanding the rules reinforces this
conception. I find the Combat Reference Sheet made by Dave Nielson a great summary of the rules and a go-to for GMs without having to flip through rulebooks. I don't have a HM GM screen, but I can see already some of the tables I would want easily at hand when one is created. 
I have also heard of various combat trackers, initiative trackers, combat wheels, and combat rose card holders and trackers that could be useful. I think I'll hold off on commenting on those for now, as I've not used them, but might as I get more familiar with the system and start to incorporate more tools into my GMing. I also want to put up a separate post about HM and minis later. I am a soft mini user--more for effect and color than strategic use. I have some ideas how I could incorporate more mini use and not make it a battle-grid wargame style of game. I have also gotten into making my own dungeon terrain tiles a bit and can see how it would be fun to have that in some sessions. Any-who, I would love to have feedback from experienced Hack-players on anything I've missed or mis-represented and on people unfamiliar with Hackmaster about if my list helps at all.