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Hollow Earth Expedition

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If you like pulp then you will likely love HEX’s setting. In HEX the Earth is hollow (duh!) and many things that were once lost are found to still exist. Some examples are Atlantis, Dinosaurs, Beastmen, and powerful artifacts.

So by now you might be thinking about how in the heck you would get inside Hollow Earth. Well, there are openings scattered all over the planet. Most of the entrances to Hollow Earth are places that in the real world have some sort of mythic feel to them. You can get in through the Polar Openings, Bermuda Triangle, and other obscure places.

Once you are in everything changes. Magnetic fields keep compasses and radios from working and time moves at snails pace.  Native people (cargo cultists, noble savages, and Cannibals) make up the human population in Hollow Earth. However people sometimes get to hollow earth in strange ways and there even pirates in blood bay.  Besides the human population there are also many monstrous creatures like Lizardmen, Hyaenodons, and saber-toothed tigers. Not to mention the vegetation, might try to kill you.

The setting is great. You could easily play any style pulp game you want with HEX. If you want emulate the novels of Burroughs, Carter, de Camp and the like, this is the game for you.


Character generation is quick and easy. HEX uses archetypes, which helps simplify and speed up chargen. Some of the archetypes are Criminal, Explorer, Hunter, Occultist, and Soldier. A point buy method is used to generate stats and skills. One highlight about the character generation is the Motivation.  Motivation is just like it sounds; it gives the player and GM a cue as to how to involve the character in the game. When a player properly plays out his motivation the GM awards him style points which can be exchanged for bonus dice on any role.

The main system is a simple dice pool system. Basically you add your stat plus skill plus any modifiers. The total is the number of dice you roll. Even die results are successes, so as you might suspect, you can use any type of die (d6,d8,d10,d12, and d20) you want as long as they are all dice rolled are the same type. Combat works with the attacker rolling (for ranged attacks) dex plus firearms or archery plus weapon strength and the target rolling his defense dice. If the attacker rolls more successes, he hits the target and deals one point of damage for each success rolled in excess of the targets defense successes. It’s that simple. Now as simple and “rules lite” as that might sound hex also has many subsystems that can add more detailed and/or cinematic game play, like called shots, total attack, auto fire, and flurry. The system is definitely on the lighter side but it won’t leave most people wanting for more. I really like the system and it seems like it could be adapted to for other applications.

The down side though is (as minor as it is) that magic and sorcery are mentioned briefly in the book, there are no rules or suggestion on how to handle them. From what I understand there is supplement in the works that covers magic, so I guess will have to wait.

Production Values:

HEX is a 252 page hardcover with a mainly B/W interior (the archetype pages are color), with a full index and character sheet.

Along with the setting and system, the production values are out standing. The cover are is some the better art I have seen on an RPG book in quite some time and the interior are is also of good quality. Most of all the art suits the feel of the book well and complements the setting. The inside cover has a nice color map of the world showing all of the entrances to Hollow Earth. The page layout is very tight and clean, every inch of space is used and none wasted. Due to the tight layout the HEX seems to have more content than books of the same length but more wasted space.  

My one complaint on the production values is the fact that there was no map of the Hollow Earth included. This may have been done intentionally to leave the setting as open as possible but I would still like to have some reference to places mentioned in the book.


If you have been looking for a pulp game HEX is well worth a look. The price is $39.99 which is pretty much the standard price for a hardcover RPG. In buying HEX you will definitely be getting a game published with higher standards than many games published these days.  


Thanks for the review; how easy  do you think it would be to convert the setting over to something like True20?


--- Quote from: Aos ---Thanks for the review; how easy  do you think it would be to convert the setting over to something like True20?
--- End quote ---

Well there is no formula to convert stats really, but you should be able to model all of the same things in True 20. Though, I think True 20 might not be as cinematic.

Zachary The First:
Excellent review.  I, too, noticed the lack of a map, which always galls me.  If memory serves, didn't they have them for sale at their Gen Con booth?  I can't seem to remember...


--- Quote from: Zachary The First ---Excellent review.  I, too, noticed the lack of a map, which always galls me.  If memory serves, didn't they have them for sale at their Gen Con booth?  I can't seem to remember...
--- End quote ---


Yeah, they were selling a map at Gecon, but I'm not sure it of Hollow Earth or just larger version of the one on the inside cover.


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