Sunday, February 22, 2015

Hackmaster 4e & 5e Comparison Part 2

Hackmaster Combat: The Real Difference

Netherdeep by Erol Otus
4e Combat
4e combat is essentially a First and Second edition AD&D system. The outline or flowchart of AD&D combat can be somewhat complex "rules as written". A general outline of 4e Hackmaster combat runs something like this:
  • Encounter distance
  • Surprise resolution
  • Encounter reaction
  • 1d10 initiative
  • Combat rounds
  • Resolve actions in initiative order
  • Roll to hit plus modifiers vs AC modified by character abilities, armor type, weapon speed
  • Roll damage
  • Missile combat the same modified by range
  • Spells resolved as per spell description in initiative order
  • There are details such as armor damage and HP absorption
  • Damage rules details can make combat very dangerous
HM 5e Combat
5e combat is somewhat more simulationist and logical. The outline of combat is somewhat as follows:
  • Encounter Distance
  • Initiative roll with base initiative modifiers for first action
  • Initiative count by second
  • Surprise
  • Subsequent actions occur on a "seconds added" basis based on actions, moves, weapon speed et al
  • Combat rolls are modified by attack bonus including character attributes, and proficiency by area et al
  • Defense rolls are modified by defense bonus including character attributes, proficiencies et al
  • These rolls are compared and damage rolled
  • Damage is modified by shields and armor type etc.
  • Ranged attacks are resolved similarly, but have different modifiers based on range.
  • Threshold of pain makes combat very dangerous.


The details between the two are minimal. I mean, they're actually profound but they have minimal effect on the overall appearance of the game from a KODT perspective. In other words the flavor and depth of armor damage, repair, TOP, trauma, etc. are all flavor that each version contains in one form or another. The "real difference" of which I speak is the initiative count up and the defense roll. 
the initiative count up isn't that big of a deal, but their is a slight difference in appearance between a round based system. This doesn't come into play too often in KODT, but the defense roll makes combat seem much different. Now it may seem like we're splitting hairs here. I mean why would it matter that we just roll to attack and hit or not, versus rolling to attack and having a defender roll to defend. It makes sense after all--seems much more logical. The difference is that is not the way AD&D was done, not has it been the way KODT combat has played out in the comic. To tell the truth everything else is window dressing to this one difference. 

For instance, I planned on doing a third installment covering spell casting and dynamics. However, the similarities here outweigh the differences.  Spell points have been used in KODT for ages, and aside from some other minor variations Spellcraft in both 4e and 5e  are largely the same. This combat defense roll however will take some getting used to.

But the real question is, as mentioned a couple of posts ago: will this change the KODT ethos enough to make a difference. No. I really don't think it will matter all that much. Which of course makes me wonder about the nature of the game and its system as opposed to the culture you are playing within. After all KODT borrows liberally from a number of classic games like GURPS, Paranoia, Cattlepunk, Scream of Kachooloo, SpacHack etc. etc. Even though Hackmaster is their go to game, do differences in game change the ethos. I don't think so.