06 February 2013

hollowpoint review

I've played two games of hollowpoint recently - one at Kapcon games on demand, the other with my regular group.

It's a great system for one-shot action. Both games ran at a breakneck pace, with crazy action scenes quite naturally developing out of the conflict mechanics.

The games were fairly different in detail: at Kapcon, we had a mob revenge/reprisal scenario. This week, I had a team of anti-terror agents working for a mysterious organisation in 80s action movie style.

Despite the rather different feels (albeit both action), the system handled both with ease. For the anti-terror mission, I changed two of the skills from the default (which suggest 100 Bullets or Reservior Dogs in feel) to give the agents a more military edge. This is suggested in the book, with a fair range of examples to give you ideas.

The system is simple enough to explain quickly, but has a few emergent effects that mean there's rarely an obviously best choice about how to approach a conflict (for the agents, is it worth asking for help - with the possibility of rebuff?; for the GM, do I introduce a principal character and split up my dice pool?). That makes the mechanics of the dice a bit more interesting than many simple systems, especially those intended for ease of play as a one-shot.

Another nice feature is that players choose if and when their characters die. If your agent takes two hits, you can choose to "move on". If you take that option, you reinforce the shared teamwork dice pool, and make a new (higher ranked) agent to come in and fix up the (obviously screwed up) mission. It's very fun to have the new character come in with the explicit requirement that they take time to chew out the rest of the team for their failures!

Highly recommended for nasty, violent action games! If the slogan ("bad people killing bad people for bad reasons") can fit the action scenario you have in mind, hollowpoint will almost certainly fit the bill. I'm sure I'll be taking to conventions as a reliably fun, easy to run option.

Additionally, I made myself some reference sheets to cope with the rules in these first games, which you are welcome to grab if you think they'll be useful. There's a GM summary, an agent summary, and cards with the agents' special abilities by rank.