So HackMaster began as a parody of AD&D 1e in the Knights of the Dinner Table comic strip, and then was published as a legitimate game.

From what I hear it's sort of like 1e turned up to 11 in the sense of making the point of play more explicitly to win (and the player - DM relationship more explicitly confrontational), and challenging the PC's status as heroic protagonists even further than 1e does compared to modern editions.

The DM screen is called the Gamemaster's Shield and protects them from thrown pencils and dice. It has a heroic looking character at the front, and then when you want to intimidate the players you open a flap showing the same character getting impaled by a Lizardman spear. The player's screen thing looks like a crenellated castle wall with a little drawbridge to roll your dice through so they're in the open and no-one accuses you of cheating.

The players are encouraged to min-max by getting access to more powerful characters in exchange for relatively innocuous and fluffy-sounding drawbacks like "alcoholic". The GM is then given tools and advice to mercilessly punish the players for their drawbacks. The alcoholic character has to pass a check to avoid getting drunk whenever booze is around, so of course the PCs pass through a wine cellar on their way to the boss battle and the alcoholic gets loaded which makes them much worse in combat. Which absolutely does reflect how you're supposed to run 1e Paladins.

I'm running 1e at the moment, and I certainly can see how it could be played in this way. I can see where it's coming from as a parody. It's not entirely unfair at all. I actually think 1e does become more fun if you embrace this style to some extent. I suspect the "HackMaster style" could serve as a more distilled, coherent image of 1e play, exaggerated for clarity and effect.

Do you think Next is actually going to present this as a viable and legitimate playstyle? So not just ALLOW it, but talk about it and facilitate it?

I think it should, but I REALLY wonder how it possibly can, because it just feels so at odds with the current edition's basic assumptions about the player - DM dynamic and the PCs' "story rights" if you will.

Anybody who does play HackMaster, please chime in with your experiences.