Back at the end of April, I made a post where I took pleasure in the Erol Otus cover to Kenzer & Company's upcoming HackMaster Basic. Nearly two months later, I still think the cover is awesome, but I'm cooling on my interest in the game itself. Kenzer has released several PDFs intended to give potential customers a sneak peek at what's in store, one of which is a full table of contents of the 192-page book. Left unanswered is the question of how any book that calls itself "basic" can be almost 200 pages long, especially when one considers that the AD&D Players Handbook was 128 pages long and the Rules Cyclopedia just a little over 300 and it covers levels 1-36.
Also found on the Kenzer website is a "walkthrough preview" of the game. It was reading this, though, that really made me reconsider my initially hopeful feelings about the game. Leaving aside its smug tone, which I found grating but realize is as much a part of the charm of the game to some people as AD&D's High Gygaxian is to me, HackMaster Basic simply looks much too rules-heavy for my tastes these days. In addition to ability scores, races, and classes, there are priors and particulars, quirks and flaws, skills, talents, and proficiencies, not to mention the honor system I found faintly ridiculous in the previous edition. Combat has been expanded to include knock-back rules, in addition to special moves, trauma, and other similar complications. I found myself once again wondering what Kenzer thinks "basic" means, only to realize that, compared to the "advanced" release later this year, this book may very well qualify as basic.
None of this is to say HackMaster Basic will be a bad game or that it doesn't scratch a particular old school itch that some people have. But it's definitely not my itch and hasn't been for many, many years. I certainly wish Kenzer & Company all the best with this game and hope it proves very successful for them. I wish I could come along for the ride, but, honestly, I can't see abandoning any of my current games for HackMaster. If I can snag myself a review copy somehow or other, I'll definitely give it a fair shake. I'd love to be convinced that the impression I got from the preview material is mistaken, even though I don't imagine I will be.