Sunday, February 8, 2009

Hollow Earth Expedition (HEX) pt.2

As I said in part one of this post I am a HEX fan and can't recommend this book enough. In part 2 I am going to look at and rate the various sections of the book on a scale of 0 (horrible) to 5 (awesome).

The cover:
HEX is a hardcover book and has one of the best covers I've seen on any RPG. The artwork for the cover really gives me a sense of what the game is about danger and adventure, something most RPG cover art fails to accomplish. Even the title font conveys a sense of adventure.
Rating: 5

The table of contents:
This sections pretty much shows that the book is set up in about the same order as every other RPG. Everything is pretty much where you would expect it to be. However, chapter 2 (Characters) also lists the subheading, archetypes, motivations, attributes, skills, talents, resources and flaws. This makes quick referencing character creation easy.
Rating: 5

Flight of the Eagle:
The book begins with the diary of Knut Fraenkel detailing the story of the Eagle and her crew as they journey to the Hollow Earth. As far as flavor text goes this is a pretty good read. It really does a good job of introducing the setting and giving new players a sense of what the game is about. Though there is an adventure included in the book, I'll get to that, this section could easily be converted into a gaming session.
Rating: 5

This section is pretty much the same regurgitated intro you will find in all other RPGs, though the What is Pulp Adventure section could prove helpful to those new to the genre. While I usually just skip this section in most books, a new gamer could find this short intro useful. Not very original, but thankfully short.
Rating: 3

Chapter 1 Setting:
This section does an excellent job of introducing players to the setting. I especially like the inclusion of historical information from the era. It really does a good job of giving you a sense of what the world was like and what was going on in the late 30's. Everything from the cost of every day items to helpful statistics and info about 40 different countries as well as political and social information from the era. My only complaint about this sections is that the info is very oriented towards the surface world. The actual Hollow Earth info is saved for a later chapter.
Rating: 4.5

Chapter 2 Characters:
This section is a pretty basic character creation chapter. There are some very good sample characters and suggestions for customizing. Other than the fact is is organized well, better than a lot of other RPG books, it is pretty basic information.
Rating: 4

Chapter 3 Rules:
Again this is a pretty basic chapter that you will find in most RPG books. It is very clear and the rules are easily understood. Of course the Ubiquity system isn't that difficult to master. But the section is well organized and does a good job of making sure readers aren't left scratching there head regarding rules. Short chapter so it is easily referenced.
Rating: 4

Chapter 4 Combat:
Again this chapter is pretty much what you would expect, though it is well written and clear. Like most books a sample of play is included as are many charts, tables and helpful sidebars.
Rating: 4.5

Chapter 5 Equipment:
The title says it all. It is hard to screw this chapter up as it is pretty much a list of items and their costs with descriptions. I only wish they would have included a few more weird science items which are a big part of pulp adventure stories.
Rating: 4

Chapter 6 Gamemastering:
This short chapter does a good job of detailing how to run Hollow Earth games. For experienced GMs it may be more of the same, but for a new GM it is great chapter.
Rating: 4.5

Chapter 7 The Hollow Earth:
This is a great chapter. It does an excellent job of describing the Hollow Earth, how to get there, its geography and detils like how magnetic fields influence electronic devices. Due to the continual "sun" it even has a section on how constant daylight may affect characters biological cycles. Naturally there is a section on the Atlanteans, their technology and abilities.
Rating: 5

Chapter 8 Friends and Enemies:
This chapter details the potential allies, villains, secret societies and creatures PC's are likely to encounter during their adventures. While it is a pretty basic chapter in most books, the information, especially for the secret societies, is well written and interesting to read. Much is based on supposed real world societies like the Thule.
Rating: 5

Sample Adventure:
While I am not a fan of prefab adventures, this one seems to be a good intro for those new to gaming or as a single session to introduce new players.
Rating: 4

Overall rating: 5
This is a great game that is well put together, fun to read and aesthetically pleasing. For pulp gamers or those interested in pulp adventure games, this book is a must have for your gaming shelf.