Monday, April 9, 2012
H is for Hellcats and Hockeysticks
H is for Hellcats and Hockeysticks.
Right off the bat, er stick, you are warned that the "Headmistress" (the Game Master) will not be fair, but arbitrary, has favorites, will smack your hands with a ruler if you do something stupid, and can be bribed. You know this will be a fun game! Also I should point out that this game is about the English school system rather than that of the American one.
Character creation is really fast. You start off thinking about who your student is (the introduction reads like you are sending your daughter to the school, which I thought was clever). Pick a Clique (like a class/archetype), Curriculum (clique based skills), other Skills, Willpower, Traits, Rivalries and Secret Fear. Pretty much any clique you can think of is here; the nerd, the goth, the sporty girl, the pretty one, the ninja foreign exchange student. If you ever watched the movie "Spice World" and thought the girls needed to have more action scenes, then you should stop reading this review and pick up this game now.
Skills are ranked 1 to 5 (novice to expert) and cover a wide variety of subjects. To resolve tasks you roll a 6-side die and then an additional die for each level of the skill you have. So if you are trying to blowup the chem lab and you have a 3 in Chemistry then you roll 4 dice. The Headmistress compares this to her rubric (table of difficulties) and lets you know what you have done. Some levels are impossible to reach, but the Headmistress will make you roll anyway because that is the kind of evil person she is.
Willpower is your main "Ability" and can change from game to game.
Of course my favorite part of this game is picking your "Best Friend" and "Rival" from the other player characters. You also have to pick something about each characters you also loathe. Yes you are encouraged to be a bunch of smiling back-stabbers. It's like "Pretty Little Liars" or "Heathers" the game. I like that, you can revoke a friendship. There are some fun rules around that as well.
Combat is detailed (and thus tacitly encouraged) including a really neat idea of "Bidding". Using this adds a little extra realism and drama to the combat. For example a character want to club some guy on the head with her hokeystick (I should point out that this is field hockey, not ice hockey which uses a different stick), she bids "I'm going to fight dirty" and "HE'll never hit a girl". To give her an extra edge. The Headmistress, being the wholly vile human she is, bids back "He is bigger than you" and "You have been running all the way here, your knackered." The idea is you and the head mistress go back and forth like this, adding a bid each time, till one your can't think of anything else. Page 60 has a whole list of ideas.
Damage is represented in loss of willpower and how long you are out of the action. No one actually can die in this game, but you can be hurt. A lot. Since the loss is to Willpower that also effects how well you can do other things. The system hand waves things like swords and guns by saying basically if you get hit with these you are going to be out of the game for a long time if you even survive. How's that for deadly? Besides, there is a fun in that? Combat in this game should be about cat-fights, the occasional brawl and maybe knocking out a boyfriend or two.
There is a section on fears, car chases, and all sorts of other mayhem. There are also great sections on Weird Science and Magic. Just in case you also wanted to "The Craft".
There is the Headmistress' guide to the school (background) and faculty as well as other schools in the area. After all there has to be an all boys schools as well.
There is a section on running games for H&H, including how to run Player-Driven plots including a great 2d6 adventure generation table. By my calculations that gives you over 1,450 plots. We are also given a number of adventure seeds to use and a complete short adventure.
Finally the list of inspirations is notable for the only RPG I have that lists D.E.B.S. as must see movie. But it also lists "Hex" and "The Craft", two faves of mine.
This is a really fun game and one I'd love to try at a Con sometime.
Of course I am tempted to do a mash-up of this and Witch Girls Adventures.