When my first game of Hollowpoint ended, one player burst out, “That was awesome!” and the others agreed that they’d like to run Hollowpoint again a bunch of times, trying different setups every time.
So, yes, this is a fun system.
Hollowpoint is built to tell stories about Agents on a Mission. These are the kinds of stories where everyone wears a black suit and a narrow tie, and carries a gun. Quentin Tarantino movies are perfect examples, though the system’s flexible enough to handle cop stories, hard
The System, In Brief
Each character has a name, six skills, and five traits. The six skills are KILL, CON (conniving/tricking others), DIG (research), TAKE (stealing), TERROR, and COOL. Each player ranks these skills from 0 to 5 for their character, 5 being best. Each trait is a freeform description of some special ability, focus, or talent that a character can “burn” for extra dice.
Quick basics of conflict resolution: Each player chooses a skill, and rolls that many dice. The ref (GM) gets 8 dice in the first conflict, and more in later ones. Dice are pulled into sets by matching number, so if you roll a 1, 3, 3, 5, 5, you have two sets: two 3’s and two 5’s. At this point, you can burn as many traits as you want to roll 2 more dice and slide them into sets as appropriate.
Whoever has the longest set (and within that, the
There’s more to it–particularly regarding teamwork and introducing new characters–but that’s the basic flow. Characters are easily built and described, and the system encourages a more abstract
How We Set Up
I ran this game online via Skype, with every player’s video cameras on. I made two Google documents: one text document with blank character sheets, and one drawing to represent the dice on the table. In the drawing, I created five text boxes: one for my die rolls, three for the players’, and one for the teamwork pool (though we ended up ignoring the teamwork rules):
When we rolled dice, we’d group
It took us about 45 minutes to decide on the era, the agency, and to create the
How It Went Down
We decided to set our game in the future, but with a 1960’s heist vibe. The characters were all mercenaries working for a crime syndicate, who were hired by The Dragon (a
The players boarded under false identities and, upon casing the casino, discovered that the grown daughter of Ganymede’s President was hanging off the arm of the most
Her room had been completely ransacked. A quick check of her computer terminal revealed that her system had also been compromised, and it was an inside job. Security burst in, led by the fearsome Security Chief Garibaldi, and the PCs again managed to talk their way out of it in conflict 2. They went to the Fat Man’s suite, where he managed to get security uniforms for them and swapped out their records for an incoming group of security personnel. They made their way to Security HQ, where they were led to an interrogation room. The door slammed shut behind them. They had been betrayed by The Fat Man!
Their third conflict was against an interrogation team, which the players lost. They revealed most everything. They were left in the interrogation room, at which point they used various mobile hacking skills to create a distraction (Face called in a favor), get out of the room, and sneak their way to the central vault. They used some ingenious tricks to unlock the vault, at which point they heard ironic clapping. The Fat Man stood in the doorway, flanked by two security guards!
The final conflict began. As the ref, I had a lot of dice, and while the PCs did well, The Fat Man eventually managed to shoot one PC until he was bleeding out, hit another, and rattle the third before the hacker was able to jack into The Fat Man’s
What I Learned
Hollowpoint perfectly modeled complex, intense conflicts with a variety of different character types, and can be easily extended or changed to handle others (for a Mage-like game, one might swap out the TAKE skill for MAGIC).
It also models those stories well. The book provides a structure for the overall story, with certain conflicts involving the big bad guy, and retaliation scenes. The ref also gets extra dice in future conflicts, ratcheting up the tension and making later battles tougher.
One player made the point that the game really felt like an “Us versus the world” story; the characters were backed into corners constantly.
I also love the rule (and, yes, it’s a rule) that everyone must narrate every use of the mechanics. It got my players thinking about how to
To sweeten the deal, the paperback of Hollowpoint is currently available at Lulu for US $19.99. A PDF is coming soon, at a significantly lower price.
Hollowpoint was developed by the