One thing I forgot to mention about HackMaster Basic: It uses (at least for combat) 1d20 + modifiers versus 1d20 + modifiers.
(If any non-game-geeks want to try to follow this, that means: The player of the attacker rolls a die—which happens to be twenty-sided instead of your standard cubic dice—and adds whatever modifiers his character is entitled to. The player of the defender does likewise. The higher total of die plus modifiers “wins”. You may have read that there is no winning in role-playing games. This is—generally—true. There are no game ending victory conditions. There are, however, minor victories along the way.)
From a design point-of-view, I love this. In actual play...not so much, and I can’t make a convincing argument for why this is so. Likely it stems—at least in part—from two of my peculiar weaknesses:
- Remembering details
- Mental arithmetic
When running the Lord of the Rings campaign, I often found myself doing this dance:
- Roll for the NPC
- Add the NPC’s modifiers
- Ask the player for their total
- Having completely forgotten the total for the NPC I had just calculated, calculate it again
- If I’m lucky, those numbers haven’t forced the player’s total from my mind...
And—of course—Decipher’s Coda system using 2d6 (your standard pair of two cubic dice) rather than a single die just added one more obstacle for my arithmetic-challenged brain.