A couple of my fellow bloggers have been waxing enthusiastic over the Earl Otus cover that has been released for the upcoming (June 30, as of this writing) HackMaster Basic, a sort of redaction of the also-upcoming (November/December timeframe, so they say) HackMaster 5E intended to allow folks to jump in to the HackMaster game without having to absorb three or more books, and for under $20. Worthwhile goals all around, I'd say.
Much as I like the cover art, the announcement got me reading through some of the Kenzer forums on what, exactly, the new version of HackMaster (specifically, HackMaster Basic) would be like. The designer has been giving out all kinds of very specific tidbits, which is fantastic from a customer satisfaction standpoint. Some companies could learn from their example.
I've said before that, much as I like it, I don't view HackMaster as a game I'd actually play as written, but rather as a toolkit that I can (and do) raid for ideas. Since 4E was pretty near 100% compatible with my game of choice (AD&D 1E), that seemed the way to go. And indeed, I've gleaned two ideas from the upcoming version that I will be implementing in my own game effective immediately:
1) Magic-users are not limited to the spells they choose to memorize. It is *easier* for them to cast the spells that they spend time memorizing, but it is not *impossible* to cast other spells in their spell books. Doing so costs them two "memorized" spells, of the same level, their choice.
2) Clerical spells such as bless, cure light wounds, chant, etc. are less effective if cast on persons who do not share the same faith as the cleric. I'll go through the clerical spell list and figure out which have half effectiveness for non-believers and which are doublly effective for believers.
Both of these will be tested in our next game session. I'll report back on how they work in the field.
I should say, though, that the new HackMaster version seems like one helluva game. I was going to buy HMB anyway for ideas (even though the system is less compatible with AD&D than the old version was), but now I might be tempted to play it as written. It really sounds like they're doing what WotC attempted to do with 4E; fix all the problems with the previous version, without changing its fundamental character.