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Hollowpoint» Forums » House Rules

Subject: Alternate Abilities for Lord of the Rings / The Hobbit Skin rss

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Paul Baldowski
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We played a game themed around The Hobbit with the rules for Hollowpoint on Monday. In preparing for this, I thought I'd twiddle with the character abilities a bit to better fit the new skin for the game rules. Hollowpoint normally uses KILL, CON, TERROR, DIG, TAKE and COOL as the base six abilities, but includes notes on customising them to the sort of game you're playing. I wanted to tweak the focus a bit, as much for flavour as anything, so I opted for:

1 HURT - In the end, you will be KILLing people; I just wanted to remember that this isn't all about death. Sometimes you just want to torture people - as Sauron's minions tortured Gollum for the location of the One Ring. HURT means any effort to cause harm, whether with a sword, bow or a blast of magic. In Lord of the Rings, Gimli certainly had this up high, and Aragorn, Boromir and Legolas probably scored it quite high, too.
2 SNEAK - When you want to get somewhere quietly, catch someone unawares, or lighten someone's pocket, then you SNEAK. In Hollowpoint terms you're trying to ambush people, surprise them, catch them off their guard - or deprive them of something without their awareness of the loss. In The Hobbit, they hired Bilbo for this; in Lord of the Rings, Gollum did this a lot.
3 DESPAIR - When you fill the heart of your enemy with sour thoughts and the weight of the world, reminding them of the hopelessness of everything, then you target them with DESPAIR. You weave sad tales of the death of kings, the sacrifice of star-crossed lovers, or the endless guardianship of an entire nation over the borders of dark lands. Boromir might have been a good fighter, but he could DESPAIR people to death much faster. Wistful tales of the lands across the great ocean and lost love also make Legolas, Galadriel and Aragorn hot contenders for reasonable DESPAIR scores.
4 RIDDLE - Where you can't compete with arms or brute strength, what you know or what your opponent doesn't know can be a valuable bargaining chips in ending a conflict in your favour. Whether you have to cross wits with an opponent to save your own skin, or unearth the only weakness of the One Ring - then you turn to RIDDLE. You can uncover forgotten lore, ask someone what you've got in your pocket - or outriddle a dragon into letting you leave without a roasting. Bilbo and the other Hobbits all would have had good to excellent scores here, as would Gandalf and Elrond.
5 WATCH - If you know what your enemy has been up to before now, you'll prepare better for next time - and you do that by keeping WATCH. Whether you station guards at the border, send a flock of Crebain along the mountain passes, or leave a living tree hanging around on the outskirts of the forest, having a WATCH means you can get the upper hand on your foe, skirt around her defenses, or put them on the back foot with your unerring insight. Saruman and the Elves had good WATCH, as did Faramir and Aragorn. Of the party heading to Erebor, only Bilbo and Gandalf likely did well here - the Dwarves seemed to have little in the way of a keen eye for danger, except perhaps Thorin.
6 COMMAND - The presence and charisma of a leader can make a kingdom or hold a hopeless cause together, and COMMAND is the distillation of that ability. Pushing your people to endanger their own lives, pressing the repentant dead into your service, or convincing desperate companions you might yet save the lives of your little friends - they all use this ability. Aragorn and Denethor (probably) both possessed this to some measure, but used it in different ways.

While it's not the sort of game where you worry too much about the detail of your characters or their longevity, I did have a few entertaining moments trying to work out the stats of the characters from the books/films.

(Cross-posted from Google+)
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Toph Marshall
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This is good -- thanks.

One thing that I find important when re-skinning Hollowpoint is to be clear what the taken-out Effects are for each skill (i.e. what would go on p. 46). This is important, since two hits means they are potentially our of the game.

Did you have an Effects list? I'd be interested to see it!
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Paul Baldowski
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Some came from the rules, some were themed by references from LotR or The Hobbits... others I didn't prepare but seemed to fit.

HURT
First: Screaming
Second: Damaged

SNEAK
First: Unguarded
Second: Exposed

DESPAIR
First: Forlorn
Second: Burdened

RIDDLE
First: Bewildered
Second: Confounded

WATCH
First: Observed
Second: Revealed

COMMAND
First: Coerced
Second: Oppressed
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