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Messages - JohnSmith

RPG Ghetto / Re: Human Occupied Landfill
July 24, 2019, 04:47:15 AM
Quote from: Cramulus on July 15, 2013, 06:19:04 PM
Human Occupied Landfill, or HOL, is a tabletop RPG printed in the 90s.

Game Rulebook:

Wikipedia page:

At this point, I'm really used to playing overproduced, highly polished RPGs. Books with a dozen editors, a highly trained design & layout department, and tons of official branding and merch. I'm used to books with proper spelling and well-playtested rules.

HOL has none of that. But it has more spirit than any RPG book I've ever read.

First, take a scroll through the rulebook in the link above. Notice how the book is ALL HAND WRITTEN? It screams 90s zine. It makes me want to write a 90s zine. It was picked up by White Wolf's Black Dog division. Black Dog specialized in edgy, fringe, often experimental games which probably wouldn't work for a mainstream RPG audience. All the black dog publications have attitude. This book has a bad attitude which will get it sent to bed without supper, but instead it stays up listening to punk rock and drawing pictures of guns.

Writing an RPG is a labor of love. HOL was clearly a labor of hate. You can tell from the blurb on the back cover:

QuoteWe know that look.

That "If I have to check for traps one more time, I'm going to sneak a spoonful of drain cleaner into the GM's yoo-hoo and start screaming "GUESS YOU FAILED YOUR SEARCH CHECK ON THAT ONE MR. TEN BY TEN STONE CORRIDOR."

You need help.

You need HOL.

Science Fiction Roleplaying for gamers who've had a really bad day. Get it before you hurt someone.

These guys hate D&D. You can tell. They played it to death and now they're bored as hell. You can see it in their parodies of D&D munchkins and "gary" style gaming. They want something more, but they're not entirely sure what. Just that it's loud, and rude, and might result in personal injury.

I get the sense that HOL was written more or less as it popped into the authors heads. You can tell they were making it up as they were writing it. The rules are difficult to understand. They self-contradict. They ramble. They go off on diatribes. The example text for how to parry an attack goes in circles until the GM (or HolMeister as they are called in this game) decides its too complicated and tells the player to fuck off and just dodge the goddamn attack already.

Most games start their book with a disclaimer which tells you it's just a game. This game begins with a claimer, promising you that playing this game will lead to drug use, psychosis, and kitten murder.

I'm not sure if HOL is playable. I'm going to find out. The rules are really weird. The setting is there, but there are no plot hooks or story ideas, just a lot of setting elements. There are no rules for character creation. Just "come up with a character, and the GM will gut it, then give you some numbers." I'm not really sure if the numbers even matter. It's like the whole game is about the attitude.

We're gonna play this week. My friend is going to run it--he says he played a few sessions back in the 90s and it's actually playable. I'll believe it when I see it. I started to make a character - I'm going to be a Health and Safety Inspector who specializes in trivia and quiz shows. I'm not going to take any combat skills, but I will have the ability to throw fundraisers and make my voice sound really important. If I understand the game properly, at some point I should punch another player in the face. (right, Player, not Character.)

So that's a quick intro to HOL: Human Occupied Landfill. Take a flip through it, check out what I mean. It's like a fractal. If the book feels like it's flipping you off, it's because every paragraph, every sentence, every piece of punctuation, is also flipping you off.

Any of you guys seen this book? Tried it? Lived to tell the tale?

Hmmm, you are right that writing an RPG in a very good task but HOL is better than that. It has a unique spirit that none of the books has. Hol is set in the 90s and it is the best part of it that I like.