My friend Brad recently wrote an ultra violent game of goodness about ‘bad men killing bad men for bad reasons’. I played in the initial playtest when he waltzed into his own apartment with an uber cool concept for ultra competent violence.
The game is Hollowpoint.
And it’s a lot of violent, bloody, excessive entertainment. Any near optimal group of people working as a team to bring the awesome… this is that game. Heat, Wanted, The Expendables… hell even The Matrix. Want to re-enact those games, that genre, make the improvements and take just about as long as the movie lasts. Then this is the RPG for you. See, Brad is really rather brilliant when it comes to game design. He’s Salvador Dali, I’m finger painting.
From working with him and the rest of the VSCA crew I’ve learned exactly three tenets on ‘how to make a kick-ass game’.
1) It Tim isn’t having fun, the game needs work. (That’s a tough tenet to export since Tim lives in Vancouver and isn’t up for rental – that I know of. It is an accurate assessment though, since Tim is the most pure Player I’ve ever had the pleasure of gaming alongside).
2) That Guy should be someone you want to play. By That Guy it means if That Guy is Gun Guy, or Intimidation Guy or Repair Girl – then the Players should have a chance to shine. If That Girl kinda blows, then rework it until something better suits that bill.
3) Playtest! Heaps.
Another thing about Hollowpoint (and Diaspora) is that both are invitingly skinnable. Skinnable means – able to layer another genre atop the game, tweak it a bit and it still pretty much works and brings the goodness while wearing this new suit of clothes.
The reason I mention all this is that with Hollowpoint, I took the game as it (modern agents of excellence) and reskinned it to fit Mechs (Giant Battle Robots). And it fits pretty well. It needs to be playtested, but the core cool is there. As I created the stats for characters I initially had two weapon based stats, those were compressed into Guns. Yah, Guns Mech is great – Laser Mech and Missile Mech are conjoined twins of average. I had Armour Mech which I realized played as “hey enemies… shoot me with your big fuck off guns while I just stand here!” I ditched Armour Mech and replaced it with Tech Mech. Tech Mech? You mean you’ve got whatever cool gizmos and geegaws you can create in your mind? Yah, I wanna pilot that mech.
It took me a while but over a walk I realized *just* how skinnable this game is. Realize I created this entire skin in about 30 minutes while I walked to a grocery store.
Hockeypoint – Hollowpoint on the Ice.
SNIPER – You score goals. Heaps n’ heaps of pretty goals.
PLAYMAKER – Divas score the goals but without you they just skate around the ice and wave their stick hoping in vain for a pass.
GOALIE – The puck stops here!
PUGILIST – What’s a stick for? Drop those gloves!
DEFENDER – Before they take the shot, they gotta get past you.
GRINDER – Someone has to go in the corners, take the hits, make the hits and sacrifice the body for all those overpaid pretty boys.
Hollowpoint has six stats – don’t like those six? Swap one out for…
COACH – For all their skills on the ice, someone has to tell the boys how to play.
And that’s it. Add five traits. Don’t be afraid to lose a star due to an injury or a contract hold out or a trade and you can easily play the game. Work your way up from expansion team to Stanley Cup champion.
I’m pretty sure Hollowpoint could be skinned for virtually any team situation, of course, I prefer it when it is a team of bad men killing other bad men for very bad reasons.
But then, I suppose I’m a traditionalist.