Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Entering the Hollow Earth

My regular Tuesday night group had their first adventure in the Hollow Earth last night. I made some slight modifications to the adventure featured in the back of the Hollow Earth Expedition core rule book...

The Cast of Characters -
Allen - Dr. Whipple Van Phillips - Snooty Professor
Brad - Crosby ?? - Big Game Hunter
Dave - Dr. Daniel ?? - Field Biologist
Hickey - Dr. Albert Franklin - Mad Scientist

I laid out a few sample pre-generated characters that were available on the Exile Games website (the same that are included in the book). The players veered towards the more scholarly types, with the lone exception of the rifle-toting Big Game Hunter. Other options were Fortune Hunter, Rugged Explorer, Occult Investigator, and Intrepid Reporter. 

I won't bore you with a full recap of the adventure, as it is mostly retelling of the sample adventure, with a few minor additions. Since two of the four players have a fair amount of experience playing Call of Cthulhu, they had a basic understanding of what it means to play and investigative game and jumped right in, looking for clues and leaving no stone unturned. The other two players caught on quickly. I feel like I gave up some information a bit too easily,  but they were really drilling me with questions and observations, so any game master is bound to slip up occasionally.

I will say that my players did come up with some fairly interesting methods for resolving the problems and did a great job playing in character. I wasn't sure how many Style Points I should have distributed throughout the evening, but Allen, particularly, was cracking me up with his snooty behavior. He insulted everyone at the table at least twice, prodded a velociraptor with his umbrella, and scooted up a tree at the first sign of trouble (including making sure to climb just a bit higher than his compatriot in the same tree, assuming the raptor might be full after the meal of Field Biologist). Everyone had their moments to shine, though. Dave befriending a triceratops and arguing the scientific method, Hickey blowing up a dino with a makeshift bomb and attempting to sell mining equipment to Norwegians. Brad regularly threatening folks with his boom stick and putting his neck on the line to protect the others.

Overall impressions? First, all the players seemed to be enjoying the session. They were coming up with creative solutions to the problems. The one bit of combat went pretty quickly (though I missed an opportunity to introduce some NPCs in the manner I planned, because I was so wrapped up in all of it.) It was fast and fun, but I think I'm going to need some work. I might have another player joining, and where I left it, it might be a challenge to introduce him. Additionally, the story as written in the book is about to wrap. I have some ideas on where to go next, but it's going to depend on the direction the players take it. I've dropped plenty of hooks for future adventures, but I have no inkling which direction they'll go with it, which is good. I need more practice at not "over-planning" and railroading, for sure. I'd like to run at least two or three more sessions of the game, to get a  good feel for it before moving on to something else.

Up next? Returning to re-read some of the fluff sections of the HEX book and see where we might take this. I'm going to need to so some sort of planning to at least have a basic story arc to work from. I think the game can be used for sandbox storytelling, but the way I've started the adventure, it's looking like it would be best to have some sort of resolution at the end. Since this is a distinct short adventure, I really feel the need to have a beginning, middle and end to a story-line, even if it gets pretty free-fore there in the middle. I'll also need to review some of the mechanics. I'm thinking that some of the parts I'm confused about may make a bit more sense, now that we've successfully completed a game session.

If we end up playing again in the future (and I hope we do), I'd certainly like to allow the players to create their own characters. I skipped it this time, because we're all still learning the rules and I didn't want to blow the whole first session on character development. It was nice, because the sample characters came complete with notes regarding


  1. I've got the Hollow Earth core book and enjoyed reading it immensely. I've really been wanting to play in a game. Awesome setting. How's the system play?

  2. The writing in the book is great. I had a lot fun making the connections between real life occult groups and (what I assume are) fictional groups. A lot of it just "clicks" or makes sense, for some reason. I was writing a pretty long response to your question, so I'm just going to turn it into a new post on here. Look for it later today.