RPG Second Look: Hollowpoint

Yesterday I ran Hollowpoint via Google Hangout. Aside from some freezing issues due to my OS (now improved, fingers crossed), it was pretty successful. We used the brilliant online Dice Roller from catchyourhare.com to keep track of GM and player dice together–not as much fun as hearing the clacking of d6 hitting the table but worked very nicely.

I’m pleased to say the system delivered everthing I had hoped it would:

  • Fast-paced missions with total focus on objectives
  • The feeling of hypercompetent people working together as a tense group
  • Quick to learn and generate characters
  • Engaging dice mechanic
  • Escalation of threat as the players win and their resources (traits) dwindle
  • Mission catches resulting in a dilemma between solving the catch and keeping the other team-mates alive.

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p>I made one mistake when I missed out the Complications–possibly for the best, as they weren’t conspicuous by their absence and could have been a speed bump for new players. Next time I won’t forget.

I’m not a fan of actual play write-ups, but the bullet points of the session included intimidating a Amish community and burning down their church, a massacre in an abandoned amusement park, and defusing an extradimensional bomb (the catch) under their headquarters in Manhatten. Suffice to say the players played very, very bad people indeed, and I don’t think any of them liked their characters by the end. Mission accomplished.

Time will tell as to how well the system can be adapted to other genres. The core skills are individually strong; genre adaptation would require substitution with setting-specific skills (e.g. Magic) which could be less focussed and more open to interpretation. It’s the limited scope of each skill that makes it interesting–for example if you’re using KILL you have to shoot people and hurt them, you can’t declare you’re using your sets for a different kind of action, and you must use all of your sets.

I maintain that this has been the best money I have spent on games this year, though FATE Core comes close. And it strikes me that the freedom afforded in Hollowpoint for declaring and narrating ones’ own actions and spending Traits is a nice primer for FATE’s Aspects.

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