The first time I encountered Exile's Hollow Earth Expedition (HEX) was a couple of years ago at Gen Con. I remember walking by the booth several times during those 4 days and picking up the book several times, but never buying. As anyone who has been to Gen Con knows it is an overwhelming experience at times. There are just so many great products, deals, events and things to try that at times my gamer brain just didn't know which way to go. So while the game definitely piqued my interest, I just didn't have enough gp to get all the gaming gear I wanted. I was forced to be very selective with my purchases and didn't get it at that time.
After returning home I kept thinking about HEX and kicking myself in the butt for passing it up. I love reading pulp stories, I love playing pulp games and yet I didn't get HEX because I wanted to buy the new L5R. I really like L5R, but now that I look back I should have gotten HEX instead.
Skip ahead several months and I just had to have the game. Since I blew my gaming budget for the year, and then some, at Gen Con I opted to get the pdf and loved the game instantly. I have read the pdf several times and just never could get over how beautiful and well done the book was, even though it was only a pdf.
Finally I decided to buy the hard copy a few weeks ago. With out a doubt the pdf does not do justice to the HC. This book is 250+ pages of awesome. While I was not that confident in the ubiquity system at first, I now like it a lot.
Ubiquity is fast and fun. While it did take a few times to get use to the new system, it was not hard to pick up. So far this is my favorite pulp game out there. I can't get enough of the Hollow Earth setting, which is just loaded with adventure potential, but the game is not limited to that setting. You can play an entire pulp campaign on the "surface world", but having some hollow earth connection just adds to any game.
Everything in the system is easy to learn. Though I will say that the Ubiquity system can be a bit annoying if you don't have ubiqity dice. Any dice work for the system, it just requires a few more to get the same results.
As for the book itself, the flavor text is both informative and well written. Potential PCs cover pretty much any type of pulp character you can think of and are very easy to customize. Every thing from masked mystery men, daredevil pilots to occultist can be rolled up and played. While the recently released Secrets of the Surface World (review coming soon) expands on the first book, allowing even more customization, it isn't necessary to enjoy the game.
The core book not only covers all the basics of an RPG like character creation, combat, and equipment, it gives you a real sense of the time in which the game is set. A little bit of everything about the world during that era is covered including populations for many countries.
I really can't recommend this game enough for pulp fans. I can't wait to get my hands on the Mysteries of the Hollow Earth and Revelations of Mars sourcebooks.
I will go a little more indepth in pt 2 of this post. Soon after that I will post my review of Secrets of the Surface world.