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Character Creation 11: HoL

The Game: HoL: Human Occupied Landfill
The Publisher: Dirt Merchant Games, through White Wolf's Black Dog imprint
Degree of Familiarity: Run quite a bit (most people won't, see below) and read through everything whenever I've needed a good laugh.
Books Required: HoL and Buttery Wholesomeness

HoL is one of a few games to achieve a legend far beyond its base of players—or readers, for that matter.It's a true cult classic among gamer circles. The blurb bills HoL as "Science Fiction roleplaying for gamers who have had a really bad day", and the interior doesn't disappoint. It's handwritten, with inline art. The writing style is idiosyncratic, to say the least, and the whole thing looks like it was cobbled together over too much coffee in a place that sells coffee 24/7. The game's setting is a parody of just about all imperial SF settings, and the system includes skills like "Shooting kinda small guns". It's got to be a joke, right?

That's the great irony. The setting, though often bizarre and related in an incredibly funny and memorable style, is rife for PCs to interfere in things. There's a hundred and one ways that enterprising people can meddle with, well, just about everything in sight. The bestiary is pretty fully featured. And most of all, once you look beneath the deliberate piss-take skill names, the system is a fairly light but rather robust 2d6 + Stat + Skill affair. It's a game masquerading as a joke game. And I'll tell you one thing, it's a fucking blast to play. The skill names help. The stupid alien races help. The cross between Mickey Mouse and an Alien helps. Everything comes together to bring about a game of dumb plans and dumber luck, of bad puns and jokes that seem hilarious when you're riding the catastrophe curve of Irn Bru and Smirnoff through to the late hours of a week tomorrow and you've given up on rolling dice because you can't see straight and you were last able to hold a pen three hours ago but you don't care because fuckit, you can't experience this shit anywhere else.

In short: if you try to play HoL as written you're likely to play the game that the writers wanted you to play. And if you're in the right mindset, you'll have a fucking blast.

HoL originally had no rules for character creation. Instead, it had 10 pregens—everyone from a small kid with a huge fuckoff plasma cannon to the walking SF hero cliche to Elvis. This was a deliberate choice, to drag players away from creating the usual mindless sociopaths and towards directed parody, with the expliit caveat that if you wanted something else you should just discuss the stats with the HM. Fuck mechanics, because they're either worthlessly random or open to minmaxing. That all went to hell with Buttery Wholesomeness, the first and only supplement. BH had character generation rules. Dear god, did it have character generation rules. While the game is good, these things are fucking insane. There's no perceivable logic beyond "let's have lots of charts".

Do not try this at home. And if you do, don't bring the result to any game of HoL that I run.

Step 1: Pick a Totem
What the hell, it works for other games. With the exception of the Earwig, they're all pretty much balanced, even. I go for Parakeet, because I like the look of 3 Feets (the dex/agility equivalent) at the start. I get 24 Kudos to play with, and my starting stats are

Meat: 0
Mouth: 0
Feets: 3
Nuts: 1
Greymatta: -1

Step 2: Early You
Three individual bits to this step. First of all, I roll pudding. Going back to random.org, your one-stop shop for all your high-grade entropy needs, now with super pro entropy and a special offer of one bit of entropy for just one bit of information—I'm drifting. 11. Vanilla pudding. I get two more Kudos. Second, I roll homeworld. It's a 6x6 array, so again I spin a couple of virtual dice. 6, then 5: This guy was born on Speedo IV, the Pacage Planet. It's a world known throughout the postal underground for their tight wrapping of all kinds of packages, and well-greased swim meets. +4 on Pubes, which comes next. 2d6+4 gets me 9: Great Liar. Once, I can pick the result of any subchart rather than rolling. Cool.

Step 3: Bugger me, that's a lot of charts
Onto the Chart Chart, the master of this whole random escapade. 1 then 2. I start on chart B, Generally Bad Choices. 2d6 gets me 8, A bad mimeshare deal. I get +1 Mouth and a mime, and if the mime dies it's 15,000 chits (where 500 is a lot of dough). From there, I go to E. Galactic Shopping Network. This new chart costs a Kudo. Cool. Roll a 6, get a Flash Rogers jetpack. Cool. Off to I. Special Training. Again, this costs 1 Kudo. I roll a 2, trapped in a creative freak uprising in a zoo. Make Someone Stop Living With Your Fist 2, Poetry and Classics 3, +1 Greymatta, and a Chevy Nova. Next stop is O. Night School. It costs but that's because you can get good shit. Thing is, I roll a 3. I get nothing and go back to chart B. Fuck that. Cashing in my Pubes result, I instead say I rolled an 8, which gives me the Far Combat cluster at 4 (from a music appreciation course) and sends me off to Q: That No Pants Dream. 1. Can't quite remember what it was, but next time I hit this chart I add one to the result. Off I go to EE, Religious Epiphany. Again, it costs. I got a padded envelope from the Apostle's Clearing House proclaiming that You May Already Be The Saviour! Try our blessings for 30 days free of charge. What the hell, it gives me a +1 to any skill and sends me to H. Loinage. I'm the product of an even that must not be mentioned under penalty of death that occurred during His Holiness' Week-long Bender. The church knows this, and will occasionally be amenable to blackmail.

I should note that I've been lucky: All these tables haven't really sucked, and they've all costed stuff, so I'm at 20 Kudos. Which is why I'm putting a paragraph break here, because otherwise it'd be fucking unreadable. Anyway, that last chart sent me off to T. Family. 9. Addams Family. Go to GG, with a +2 to the roll. GG is Caffinated. Espresso. +2 Nuts, +1 Feets, and +1 to all stats in the magic hour after breakfast. Sleep is opetional. Off to F. Soap Opera. I was swept up by a friendly superentity who had stopped by to borrow a garlic press. I'm immune to all viruses, and go to EE. Another religious epiphany. Trapped in a monastery cellar during the firebombing of Pilgrim 4. Take It Like A Man cluster at 2. On to W, All You Can Eat. Turns out it was smorgasbord night, giving me 10 points to put into any skills and sendng me to L.

L is the HoL chart. If I don't roll a 10, I'm fucked and chargen is over. But I have 16 Kudos left, so I might as well make some use of them. Skills are good, but I want a chance to boost stats, so I spend 4 Kudos to jump straight to G. I could have blown just 2 to go back to the Chart Chart, but that's too close for comfort. G is Stat Gain, and costs 1. Put in a chicken suit and chased by a guy named "Rocko" gives me 2d6 (9) Feets and sends me back to I. Special Training. Recruited by an interstellar vigilante road gang, I get Pilot cluster at 4, Seek the Guilty at 3, and +1 Feets. Off to M. Crime. After ransoming the president of Dangerously Rusted Powertools, Inc., I get 9000 Chits, and +1 to Gump rolls. More on them later. Now, back to G. I roll a 4, and after fleeing for what seems like an eternity from the salisbury scout cookie drive, I have battle-hardened reflexes and a small moon of caramel roundies. +5 Feets, on to P. Parental Misunderstanding. Rolling an 11, it turns out thatmy parents tried too hard to spend quality time, so I tampered with their brakes. I get a free trip to J: Technology. I roll a 5, and I'm a mad gadgeteer. I get Turn Radios Into Howitzers at 4 and go off to W: All You Can Eat. Again. Clambake this time, giving me Take It Like A Man at 6. That sends me to FF. Bar. I roll up Tom Collins, 80 proof, and get Fisticuffs cluster at 4 and go off to KK. It's Rainin Men. I was secretly in love with the TV since the time I knew how to feel. Tech Cluster at 3. Off to U. The Buddy System. My buddy is a Church'n'Munch frycook. Hey, don't sneeze at free chips. Off to O: Night School to study Tesla: The Man, The Genius, The Naughty Pictures of his Niece. Tech at 4. Off to J.

But, as I now have 5 Kudos, I have to roll equal to or less than my Kudos (+1 from the Crime roll earlier) or go straight to HoL. I get a 4. Off to tech. Due to loving electricity a bit too much, tech and piloting skills can go to 8, rather than 6. Off to GG, if I make the Gump roll. 5. Cool. Back to the bean, as GG is caffeinated. Black. I get +2 Nuts, but not the extra coffee bonus. I get to the Gump roll, and fail. Shit. Off to HoL with me. I roll a 7 on the HoL chart. I'm sentenced to the Human Occupied Landfill, get an extra Kudo, and that's me done with the charts section.

Step 4: Adjusting
I have 4 Kudos, which can go 1-to-1 into stats. Stats over 10 also get divvied up. Which is useful, because I'm rocking a Feets of 19. Drop that down to 10, put 7 of those into Greymatta and 2 into Mouth, then stick the 4 Kudos into Meat. I allocate the points I've got from each cluster and from the 11 bonus points into skills. I'm not going to go into detail as my brain's already melted out of my ears at this point.

I am never doing this again.

After leading an eventful life including a lot of loving machines and a brief fling with the Almighty, Tito "Lucky" Malone was the brains of the Mob's underground tech smuggling operation. Unfortunately, the Church'n'Munch didn't take to his use of the free SaviorMeal action figures as deadly weapons. He couldn't help it, he was addict to making things that went "Boom". And often "Boom, bang, kerpow, and fwackoom", for good measure. After some pressure from somewhere on high in the C'n'M, he wasn't executed. He was instead unlucky, and ended up on HoL, the Confederacy's intergalactic prison and garbage dump.

Meat: 4
Make Someone Stop Living With Your Fist: 4
Mouth: 3
Seek the Guilty: 5
Feets: 10
Shootin Kinda Small Guns: 6
That Psycho Bruce Lee Shit: 2
Operating Vehicles Smaller Than Something Really Big: 4
Wicked Quick Draw: 2
Nuts: 4
Eat Anything: 3
Tolerate Hideous Amounts Of Bloody Mutilation And Still Eat Fast Food: 3
Withstand Hellish Agony: 5
Greymatta: 7
Poetry & Classics: 3
Repair Toasters And Stuff: 4
Science And Everything Else You Failed In High School: 6
Turn Radios Into Howitzers: 8

Stuff
Chevy Nova
Flash Rodgers Jetpack
A mime
9000 Chits

Notes
Immune to disease
Secret lovechild of the Megapope
Coffee Skills

Comments

( 2 informants — We want information! )
the_seraph
Jul. 19th, 2008 06:16 am (UTC)
I actually ran an on-going game of HoL once...

the PCs were
a redneck hillbilly necrophiliac
a superspy-soldier-martial artist
and a tech-happy athlete...

for a "plot" I basically ripped off star wars, but turned everything on its head. There was "Old Bent Wand" Ken, former fashion model turned sage and adviser to the Princess, who was a beautiful little spit-fire who definitely did not need rescuing thank-you-very-much.

There was even one scene where they find the Princess and her wrecked star-fighter (with a little help from Old Bent Wand) - they're trying to figure out how to get it free before the Sodomy Bikers and COW shoulders show up, and the techie athlete pulled a 'yoda' from the movie, spent a God point, and lifted the star-fighter out of the diaper swamp with a hockey stick and some leverage.

Fun times. Really fun times.
digitalraven
Jul. 25th, 2008 05:44 pm (UTC)
That's exactly the thing I'm thinking of: playing by the book, you got exactly the kind of game the writers envisaged. It's really a cunning ruse that most people will never know because they gloss over it as a joke game.

Fuck, but I love HoL.
( 2 informants — We want information! )

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