Tabletop Game / Hol
"Warning: Do NOT read further if you are offended by the following sentence:
The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog; what a fuckin' asshole."
—HoL Disclaimer, as well as the disclaimer for this page
, short for "Human Occupied Landfill" is a roleplaying game
originally released in 1994 by Dirt Merchant Games. It's a Satire
of several famous roleplaying systems, plots, and conventions, including Dungeons & Dragons
, the Old World of Darkness
series by White Wolf
, and many others. The game was written by two long-time gamers, usually on late nights at a local IHOP, originally as attempt to create their own game based on Lobo and later to outright make fun of the complicated and often contradictory rules in role-playing games.
Players take the role of a character dumped in the Crapsack World
that is the Human Occupied Landfill, a Penal Colony
run by the Confederation of Worlds (C.O.W.) that also doubles as a literal galactic landfill, where everything from candy wrappers to nuclear waste rests alongside the prisoners. HoL itself is full of gangs, other criminals, and native creatures with the happy name of Fleshtenders to contend with, all for the amusement of the law-abiding citizens of C.O.W. who can watch the planet's prisoners fight as entertainment, via special camera bots called Crickets. The characters must survive and escape by any means possible, but it's not going to be easy. Particularly when the more useful skills a character can have include "Make Sharp Things Go Through Soft Things That Scream and Bleed", "Tolerate Hideous Amounts of Bloody Mutilation and Still Eat Fast Foods," or "Turn Radios Into Howitzers." There's also the added complications of C.O.W's mortal enemy, the Sedud Neerg Elttil Esoht
, making trouble for the Confederation itself.
Although there are rules for combat, interactions, and using skills using d6s, and the game was play-tested and has been successfully played, the book is mostly meant to be enjoyed as a read and a laugh for RPG fans.
There have been three editions of HoL
. The original has long since been out-of-print; White Wolf later picked it up and published for a time it under its adults-only Black Dog label. It is now published by The Cabil.
An expansion book
, Buttery Wholesomeness
(sometimes Buttery HoLsomeness
) was released 1995, containing the character creation missing from the corebook, new weapons, and other goodies, as well as a short bonus RPG, Freebase
that, amazingly, makes even less sense than HoL
This game provides examples of:
- Abnormal Ammo: The flaming gerbil cannon, a grenade that creates rabid monkeys on impact, a moist towelette dispenser cannon. The list just goes on.
- "What's more fun than a barrel full of monkeys? A GRENADE, THAT'S WHAT!" Upon detonation, the "Barrel of Monkeys Grenade" flash aged a hundred fertilized silverback gorilla zygotes into adult maturity. Just think about that for a second.
- Affectionate Parody: Although it can be quite harsh, the book was written by two long-time role-playing fans.
- Black Comedy: The game's raison d'etre.
- Captain Ersatz: Many of the pre-created characters:
- Character Customization: Averted. In the words of the authors:
"...we've provided you with lame-o pre-gens to choose from 'cause we didn't wanna waste our time figuring out some half-assed generation system when we could skip the whole ball of guts entirely."
- Later played straight in Buttery Wholesomeness, but the Chart Chart is still limited as it's entirely based on random dice rolls.
- Composite Character:
- Crapsack World: The Human-Occupied Landfill is a prison that's also a landfill. Everyone wants to kill and/or eat you. You're also being watched by many people who likely want you dead for their entertainment. Even your money can attack and try to kill you.
- Critical Failure: Rolling two ones, or snake-eyes: "YOU LOSE!"
"Example: Jeff's character, Fizzteeth is trying to tie his shoes. The HM requires a skill role and Jeff rolls snake-eyes.
The result: Fizzteeth's head explodes."
- Critical Hit: Rolling two sixes, or box-cars results in another roll which the player can add to what he's already rolled, and gets to add 1 to their Grace of God pool.
- Deadly Game: The events of HoL are filmed as entertainment for the holochannels of C.O.W.
- Deus ex Machina: The Grace of God pool; a player who has any points in it will be automatically be saved if they say, "Praise Jesus!"
- Averted if they have no points and attempt to use Grace of God, they may instead incur the Wrath of God, the results of which are "worse than snake-eyes."
- Enfant Terrible:
- Babies. They look like normal ones, but HoL babies are actually engineered by the Fleshtenders, and can destroy you with their sonic mindwarp.
- Also, Led Pighp, the mascot of the game. He is the only child to have survived HoL into double-digit years of age. Even with his BFG and pet wastit, this is impressive.
- Fun with Acronyms: Human-Occupied Landfill (HoL), Confederation of Worlds (C.O.W.)
- The name of the expansion Buttery HoLsomeness can also be officially shortened to "Butt HoL".
- Game Master: The HoLmeister.
- The GM Is A Cheating Bastard: "The HoLmeister is allowed to cheat. Whenever he wants to. Period."
- The Grim Reaper: Death is given stats. He's also been forced to hire subcontractors and open a branch office due to demand.
- Hell Hole Prison: Sent to HoL? You are most likely going to die. Painfully. And violently.
- I Call It "Vera": Led Pighp's plasma cannon "The Harbinger of the Void" and Frank the Were-Guy's pistol "Phyllis".
- Killer Rabbit: The Wastits, cute little blob creatures that suddenly sprout lots and lots of sharp, pointy teeth. Not to be confused with Wastems, which are both harmless and delicious.
- Noodle Incident: The one page about a quarter way through the book that is blank, save for the word "ling" typed in the middle of the page.
- Penal Colony: The original purpose of HoL; it later was turned into a Landfill Beyond the Stars as well.
- Player Archetypes: All of the pre-made characters make fun of these archetypes.
- Plot Armor: Figuratively, and almost literally. The Dickens Boys were originally collections agents for the imperial library. This being a Crapsack World, their job was more dangerous than Real Life repossession agents, so they had to arm themselves. The standard issue body armor they use is called War and Peace Armor, and it's the best armor in the game. Why? Because nobody gets through War and Peace.
- Punctuation Shaker: long vowels are consistently spelled with a macron, e.g. "Hōl" insead of "Hole", "nām" instead of "name" etc.
- Shout-Out: Several, as expected with an Affectionate Parody.
- The Six Stats: Averted. HoL only uses five. "Meat" roughly corresponds to Strength, "Feets" to Dexterity/Agility, "Mouth" to Charisma, "Greymatta" to Intelligence/Wisdom, and "Nuts" to Courage.
- Sliding Scale of Gender Inequality: Level 1. There are no women on HoL because "no woman has been that stupid or unlucky yet."
- Testosterone Poisoning: Frank, the Were-Guy, who's so manly every full moon he can only turn into something even more manly.
- Unconventional Formatting: The entire book is scrawled in handwriting. Not a bit of printed text is to be found.
- Unwinnable by Design: Hell, it's practically Unplayable By Design.
- Vulgar Humor: Cursing, dark humor, and bloody violence abound, and one of the pre-generated characters is a Pedophile Priest.