I’m a big fan of Runeslinger‘s blog and YouTube channel, his advice on running games and how we think about games is always spot on. As a relatively new GM I’ve found that his thoughts often kick off trains of thought for me which otherwise wouldn’t occur. He’s not a D&D or Pathfinder player but I’ve found his advice useful across any game system that I’ve run. Last month he published a YouTube review of the Ubiquity roleplaying system, which is the backbone of several RPGs, and I really liked what I heard and decided that I’d take a punt and buy a copy of Hollow Earth Expedition on the strength of his review.
Unfortunately Hollow Earth Expedition is difficult to find in print in the UK but I tracked down a copy of Leagues Of Adventure at a reasonable price via Games Lore. Both are pulp adventure games but where Hollow Earth Expedition is set in 1936 and brings to mind Indiana Jones, The Land Time Forgot and Edgar Rice Burroughs series of Mars (Barsoom) books Leagues of Adventure is a Victorian setting more evocative of Jules Verne, H.G. Wells and the steampunk genre. I made the “mistake” of ringing Games Lore to check something and mentioned Hollow Earth Expedition only to find that they had one copy left in stock which I promptly bought.
Both books are superbly put together and while I think I’ll probably get more use from Hollow Earth Expedition (aka HEX) as the setting fires me up a little more (purely personal taste) I’m not disappointed that I have both. The rules are easy to read and the dice pool system they use is amazingly easy to work with (see Runeslinger’s video for a better explanation than I can manage). I can immediately see how the rules give mechanical advantage to good role playing without slowing the game down at all which is an amazing feat in my opinion.
I’m actually running my first HEX game on Monday night (18th August) so I can’t say for sure how it plays until after then. It is worth pointing out though that having only had the book for a week I’m confident that Monday night’s game will go well which I think says much about how easy the rules are to pick up and run with. Indeed the combat system can either be run using standard turns or in a more fluid/continuous way (difficult to describe but closer to original by the book AD&D with weapon speed) and even for my first game I’m comfortable enough to try this completely alien style of keeping track of combat.
This afternoon my son (who is playing on Monday night) and I decided to run a quick action sequence just to make sure that my understanding of the rules was. In a few minutes I’d dreamt up a scenario where the characters have to flee from the attack of savage beast men only to find their jeep pursued by more of the same riding dinosaurs. It took less than ten minutes to scribble out enough about the lizard men, their mounts and the characters to feel confident to run the scenario with little need to keep checking the book. The scene itself, involving two groups of six attackers as well as a party of four and a jeep driving through trees, took around thirty minutes to run and both my son and I really felt like it was the best action scene we’d ever played in a role playing game! We had lizardmen throwing spears and shooting bows from the backs of dinosaurs, people shooting from the back of a jeep that was screaming through the forest dodging trees and a one point melee combat in the jeep when a lizardman lept aboard from his mount. Everything flowed really quickly and with so little need for complex maths that we could both concentrate on the story telling and visualisation of what was happening. I’ve run trial combats for Pathfinder and they have nothing of the speed and flow of HEX.
Basically I’m VERY, VERY impressed and can’t wait for Monday night’s game. If you want to try out a pulp genre game I can’t recommend HEX enough and from what I’ve seen of Leagues Of Adventure I’d expect that it, Desolation, All for One and Space 1889 will be just as good. There are a number of HEX expansions out and I am really looking forward to the Revelations Of Mars supplement that is due out later this year. Check out the Runeslinger Review and see for yourself, if you buy it I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.