Not Erik Story: My 1st Kill (HackMaster 4th Edition PC Kill....I'm not a monster)
I'm still in my computer files trying to locate some older gaming "stuff" of mine and I came across my kill sticker sheet, or at least my old HackMaster 4th Edition kill collection.
HackMaster 4th Edition was kind of adversarial between the GM and the party, but not really. It was more of a "for show" kind of thing that was played up in not only some of the source material, but in the Knights of the Dinner Table comics.
Sure, there were definitely some "Killer GMs" in the wild, but that really doesn't have squat to do with the game system. The game is crunchy, requires a lot of dice, and can be just as lethal or non-lethal as the next game. I think there was this implanted idea of the adversarial GM more as a tool to keep the players in line. Encumbrance was pretty important, as was not having a PC loaded down with too much magic. Knowing that their PCs could be facing an encumbrance or magic item audit, and the disastrous consequences of failing one......well that helped keep PCs in check and helped with some game balance.....
.....don't even get me started with the player coupons! Part of the joke/not a joke aspect of the game....
I think Jolly Blackburn started the tradition of keeping track of PC deaths with kill stickers on his GM shield. It was his way of rubbing failure in the faces of the rather successful (in general) development team (D-Team) at their weekly game sessions. Eventually he published his system of keeping track. Skull colors denoted perma-death or if the PC was resurrected, while the background told the methodology of demise. Strings of chained skulls meant that multiple PCs died in the same adventure/session, and eventually a couple of symbols were added to show if the death was part of a total party kill (TPK) or death at a tournament. Players would be much more likely to over-extend their PCs at a tournament, which could lead to a TPK. I think eventually most groups would do their best to designate a "sole survivor" just to deny the GM a TPK.
I personally added the chicken sticker, based of of Sir Robin's shield in M.......you know, you should get it already......this was to show that somebody "bravely ran away" and quit the adventure just so I couldn't get a TPK. Deny me a kill!!!! I know I later added another symbol to denote a PC purged their honor to avoid a death (like the spineless coward they were!)
This is an older kill shield set because I redid the graphics with a more comical skull, but I doubt I have many more deaths on my most recent set....should I find it.
White Skull = perma-death
Blue Skull = the PC was resurrected
Red Background = PC was killed by his party (fratricide)
Black Background = Death by monster
White Background = "Miscellaneous" Death
Green Background = Death by Trap
T = Tournament Death
X = Total Party Kill
I wish I could recall the story of each death, but really it's just the 1st one I remember. My brother-in-law was playing with us and he really wasn't into playing RPGs. It was clear it was going to be his first, and last, session. He was playing a bard and it is important to note that one of my other players had a Druid with the cling quirk. It just made sense the Druid would be clingy to the most handsome (HackMaster has a Comeliness stat) and Charismatic PC in the group.
The party had done well figuring out what was stirring up the local goblins and found the evil low-level mage that was using a found wand to lord control over them. Just prior to the BBG (big bad guy, ie. Boss) battle, when the BBG has a moment to soliloquy, the Bard just walks over and says something to the effect of, "Sounds great, I do hereby pledge my fealty to you..." I sure as hell did not see that one coming. Of course the battle kicks off immediately because the Druid attacks the Bard because, "If I can't have him, then nobody can...."
Ah.....good times. The main party did prevail, killing the Bard, the Mage, and any Goblin foolish enough to stick around....and I got my 1st kill.
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