Like previous issues, there were several iterations before the final version of the Halloween Special finally saw the light of day on 22 December 2008 - when thoughts were, no doubt, turning to another festival!
The first article, The Killer Dolls, deals with a familiar horror theme, dolls around which nasty things happen. It begins with a chilling short story, then launches into an explanation of the general characteristics of such dolls followed by some ideas of how to introduce one into your game. Stats for players of Hollow Earth Expedition and even a few sketches of such dolls to use as handouts (get a museum catalogue, there are more scary ones in any anthropological collection!) are provided.
Next comes an article about Horror and Insanity in Hollow Earth Expedition. It introduces some rules for assessing the effects on a character's mind of something really horrific that they might encounter, bearing in mind that the game isn't about making characters go mad and that it should remain fun to play your character even when he is affected by these rules. They're well-balanced and quite detailed, and broadly similar to 'sanity' rules in other rule systems which are not directed at driving characters round the bend. If you want that, go play Call of Cthulhu instead!
Then comes a piece on the Supernatural Stalker. Although it sounds a bit like one, this is not a monster but rather the one who hunts (or stalks) them, the van Helsing or the Fox Mulder of your world. Any game that has supernatural elements can benefit from this as a option for either characters or NPCs to follow... or indeed a game where the supernatural is believed to exist, whether it does or not. The Stalker needs to be capable of research and investigation, but being able to fight generally is necessary as well. He can have a range of motivations, and likewise various characteristics are needful or at least useful. While these are discussed in terms of the Hollow Earth Expeditions ruleset, it would be relatively simple to convert the concepts to the game mechanic of your choice. An example character is given, complete with illustration, and there are also some suggestions for equipment, given for the 1920s.
There's also a short story called 'The Story' which is not just a good tale in its own right on a horror theme, but comes complete with information to help you use the concept in your game.
Next comes a description of the township of Falcon's Pointe, settled by refugees from Innsmouth - familiar to all Lovecraft fans. History and background are coupled with ideas of how to incorporate the location into your game and use it to further your story. To further this theme, Deep Ones presents the Lovecraftian monster according to Hollow Earth Expeditions rules.
Finally, Save the Zombies! is a wide-ranging discussion on creating and using zombies. While again details use the Hollow Earth Expeditions ruleset, many ideas will transfer readily. And that's it. Ideal for players of Hollow Earth Expeditions, anyone who likes pulp adventure and/or 1920s adventures ought to read this... and it's enough to whet the appetite of people who don't know Hollow Earth Expeditions and encourage them to find out more.
Return to Danger Magnet Halloween Special 2008 page.
Reviewed: 21 March 2009