Let’s Try Out Hope Inhumanity

While I did promise the continuation of Greek Titan World, I’m putting it on hold while I play a game I had just recently bought: Hope Inhumanity. To put in a gist, think Book of Eli, The Road, Fist of the North Star, the Fallout franchise, The Walking Dead, or just about any other post-apocalyptic story where heroes travel from point a to point b, and you have Hope Inhumanity in a nutshell. The Road mostly inspires it, though.

The game is unique in that it’s not exactly a roleplaying game but rather a card game with roleplaying elements. See, you have a deck of cards, each with different stuff to them like character traits or items, and you separate them according to their category. The first step to the set up is wondering how the world ended. Sure, nukes are an easy solution, but the site provides different scenarios and on top of that, you also have people to bounce ideas off of.

Though for this game, I’ll pick the bottommost scenario: Return to Earth. The idea is that wars and environmental issues (possibly economical and political problems also) caused people to flee the planet and live on Mars. Twenty years later, a group of people come back and discover that Earth has changed. To make matters worse, their landing craft is damaged and they must head to a designated point to be picked up. I like this scenario because it helps set up the characters in an environment removed from the situation, so when they’re face to face with it, they end up confronting their true colors for the first time.

Yeah, I’m going with the idea that living on Mars is sort of like the space-station in Wall-E… only with less fat people. Character creation is easy too. You draw a few cards and create a character from there. These cards are three Trait cards and one Relationship card. These cards have effects that can either help or hinder you in the game. For example, the Fate Postponed trait allows you to redraw a scene card in hopes of getting a better one, while the Newlyweds relationship, which acts as a pool for your Humanity Dice.

Yes, that’s something I forgot to bring up: there’s only one stat in the game, and that’s your humanity. Your humanity is measured out in the number of dice you have. When you perform a test, you and your friends spend Humanity Dice to roll them out. After that, you lose the Humanity dice. If you are to lose all your Humanity Dice, then you’re one “lose one humanity” condition away from being removed from the game.

How does one lose humanity? Well, the tests are usually stuff like “steal from these people” or “fight off these obviously evil cannibals” which earn or cost Humanity in their own special way. This creates some struggling situations where you want to ensure your character lives, but at the cost of going either against their character or their humanity.

So with that in mind, let’s randomly generate some characters with the random face maker so we can associate the faces of our characters to something. Next, let’s draw the relationship cards. Reed and Blair are exes. Greer is Blair’s grandfather. Both Zeke and Greer have a dark secret they share. Zeke and Pippa are best friends forever. Pippa and Sid Arthur have a mutual disgust while Sid Arthur has a rivalry with Reed.

As I said, the relations have their own special effects, which I’ll reveal when appropriate. Same with the Trait Cards, which I will keep secret. With this in mind, here’s the sheet:

I forgot to mention, the hope die should have been six, as in one per player.

And So It Begins…

Again, almost all of them are randomly generated save for Blair. The dice count shows their Humanity Die count, with the middle being Hope Dice. If a character runs out of humanity, they have a chance to assist by donating the communal pool of the Hope Dice. As for the small pool of dice next to Pippa and Zeke, that’s actually the effect of the BFFs relationship. They have a dice pool to use when they run out of humanity, so that they can recover it.

Now to draw the traits. Like relations, I’ll reveal them in time. But for now, let’s begin. The game is played in a series of five rounds where everyone gets a go at a scene. If they survive five rounds, they win. If they all die, they lose. The game plays out in scenes, where they’re faced with usually a hard choice or test to overcome. Each player takes a turn drawing the scene from five piles, each representing a different piece of terrain they journey across, and acting as the leader for that scene. For this game though, I’ll put them all under one pile and draw from that.

They choose between either working to succeed at the scene or refusing to go through with it. I’ll use this scene as an example:

Our first scene is at the Wilderness where we find a cellar that contains food. Unfortunately, no one is hungry at the moment, so I’m going to refuse as Reed. Everyone suffers one hunger but gains one Humanity. If he had decided to go through with it and preformed a test, everyone would choose to work with him, giving them any number of humanity dice, or refuse.

Our next scene has Blair finding a group of survivors who refused to give a can opener for their canned goods, so they have to steal it. Blair is committed to stealing it, and so puts one Humanity die to the pool to roll. Those who choose to accept, like Greer, put any number of Humanity Dice to the table. So Greer puts one Humanity on the table and because of their relationship, he puts in a Hope Die in as well.

They can also refuse, like what Reed does. He refuses, but only because he thinks he’ll make it worse by helping her. Everyone else accepts because, hey, they’re hungry, and put one Humanity die in each.

Now we roll: [Four Successes]

We compare the number of successes to the difficulty number. In this case, it was 2, but was increased to 3 because of her hunger. We succeed and got the can opener. The game also has Asset cards, which are basically items that help your characters.

That’s when Blair reveals that she’s a hunter and feeds everyone, including herself, gaining a humanity. Not only that, but Sid Arthur reveals, in a show of decent human behaviour for him (I tend to think of Sid Arthur as the jackass of the group) gives Reed emergency food. Now no one is hungry. Unfortunately, since I have already used the traits, I can’t use them again for the rest of the game.

Then they do get hungry and come across a corpse. Greer instantly balks at the idea of cannibalism and refuses. If you’re the scene leader and you refuse to do the scene, everyone refuses as well, with no voice of reason or anything. Everyone gets hungry, which is fixed with the can opener, but they gain one Humanity.

So someone else managed to eat that corpse and has hunted down the team to have as food. They have a truck that Zeke wants to steal, so he abuses the secret he had with Greer to get him to help harder than what he is willing to. Everyone pitches in one die save for Greer and Zeke, who spend two.

Rolling it out: [Three Successes]

Which was close. They could have failed (they needed 2) and all gotten crippled, a permanent +2 difficulty rating to all difficulty settings written on the scenes. They get a burnt-out truck out of the experience, which gives them an extra die to roll around. Though that’s when Zeke reveals he is good-hearted and regains two humanity dice.

The next day, a dog begins following the group around. As you might expect, the dog is considered to be Emergency Rations. While Pippa isn’t the nicest, she does realize that the saying goes: “it followed me home, can we keep him?” and thus she refuses to eat him. Thus, they gain the Loyal Mutt asset.

On the final stage of the first round, everyone is bitten by venomous mosquitoes and in order to cure themselves, they must steal from sick kids. While Sid agrees to do this, Reed doesn’t and decides to betray him in secret. In that same time, Blair also tries to sabotage Sid. Sid spends two Humanity Die, Pippa refuses to assist, and only Zeke wants to help, though he’s in truth freeloading off of Sid. Which means that he can get the reward for succeeding without having to spend Humanity Dice. Reed and Blair succeed at their betrayal, with the former spending one Humanity die to backstab Sid and Blair spending two.

Seeing the situation being dire, Sid spends two Hope Dice (you can snag Hope Dice to help improve a situation if you feel like it’s risky) and rolls.

[Roll: Three Successes]

Now, he probably would have succeeded, but remember, both Reed and Blair betrayed him in a way. Reed made the thievery more difficult while Blair negated his one success. In truth, he has two successes when he needs three instead of the other way around. And thus, he succeeds… only to find that the antidote is for a completely different strain all together. As such, everyone suffers 1 harm, but only four restore their humanity.

But surprise, Sid and Zeke find a way to worm their way out of harm. Sid had a medicine kit in reserve and Zeke is resilient, thus negating the harm. Still, they have crossed the moral event horizon, so they might not be able to be helped.

So concludes Round 1. At the end of a round, we regain one Hope Die. Here’s how it looks now:

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Round 2 begins with Reed finding a couple of wild and haggard men eating unknown meat. Fearing it’s human flesh, he decides to go it alone, spending four of his humanity dice and one hope dice to try and succeed and thus only he can reap the benefits or suffer the failure.

[Roll: Three Success]

Which is just enough for him to succeed. He eats and concludes it’s human meat. He returns to the group and refuses to discuss the details regarding the food. The next day, the group come across a boy who’s malnourished. While Reed, Blair, and Greer help the boy, Zeke, Pippa, and Sid Arthur refuse. As such, the first three gain one humanity at the cost of starving.

Speaking of, now we have a crazy cat lady who owns a bunch of cats, living and dead. Greer reveals that he tends to make peace with people and negotiates with her to get a few of the deceased cats for food, which reduces the difficulty by 2. His granddaughter is disgusted by this and refuses to eat. Reed, hungry from the malnourished kid, joins on the feast. Everyone else pitches in save for Blair, but Greer adds a die from hope pool for free.

[Roll: Five Successes]

They eat the dead cats and recover their hunger, again, save for Blair who starves even more. Zeke finds a fortress the next day. Guilty for helping Sid with stealing the medicine, he decides to mount an assault on the fortress and raiding the pillagers who live there. Everyone, including Blair, chips in to help and he even brings in both support from Greer and the truck for this. Greer assists him by teaching him how to drive a truck, showing how talented he is. In truth, this actually makes it so that the 3s count as successes.

[Roll: Five Successes]

They managed to raid the fortress and gain enough goods to last them a while. They also gain a first aid kit, which winds up helping the very next day, as Pippa gained dysentery. With the help of Zeke, she managed to get healed and Zeke is finally redeemed in everyone’s eyes as he gains one humanity.

Then we get to asshole Sid’s turn, on his last Humanity. Sid wants to get onto a ferry without having to pay to get on it. Reed refuses and secretly works with the people running the ferry. Zeke helps with Sid, provided he doesn’t do anything crappy, while Pippa also helps, knowing that helping her enemy reduces her humanity.

[Roll: 0 Successes for Reed]

[Roll: 2 Successes]

And they manage to fight their way on the ferry regardless of the rivalry, though with Sid on his last legs in humanity. This concludes round 2.

Round 3 begins with a tornado and two women who are taking shelter. Reed decides this is the time to be shifty and forces Sid to act on it. Naturally, he acts the way he normally acts and he tries to steal the cellar from them. He spends a hope die and asks for support. Zeke has his back, but that’s all. Reed spends his die to sabotage his attempt.

[Roll: 1 Success]

And he makes it harder for the duo to achieve it.

[Roll: 1 Success]

And they fail. Those who refused take one harm but gain 1 humanity and those who failed become crippled… Except for Sid, who used the dog as a shield from the gunfire that the women had. You know, I like how I’m making one character the absolute evil. So the breakdown now is that Reed uses his medical pack to heal not himself, but Blair, and Pippa heals up Reed, since she can’t uncripple Zeke. Hopefully Zeke learns a lesson.

Blair’s turn. She finds a woman and a man taking care of some kids as they eat small birds. She has the opportunity to steal the food, but chooses not to. Everyone starves as a result, but gain one humanity. Onto Greer’s turn, he finds what seems to be Ground Zero of… whatever screwed up the planet. There’s food and supplies that they can grab. Greer puts one Humanity into this while Zeke does the same. Greer also freely puts one Hope into the roll… then proceeds to dump the rest into it. Everyone else chipped in as well.

[Roll: Six Successes]

They succeed and heal up (again, sans Zeke), but also gaining a drug called Oxycodone, which allows you to ignore any hardships and make one of your Humanity an automatic success. Greer gives it to Zeke, mistaking it for a painkiller. Greer also reveals that he is pretty optimistic about this journey, which restores the Hope Dice he spent. Then Zeke gets kidnapped. He spends a humanity to try and get out, as does everyone else.

Zeke also uses his Oxycodone to ensure that the difficulty isn’t increased by two due to his crippledness.

[Roll: 4 successes]

And they managed to save Zeke from some cannibals… unfortunately, they find that Zeke has become addicted to the Oxycodone. The side effect is simply that he can’t gain humanity. Breaking his addiction requires a humanity, which he pays. Pippa’s turn, and she finds a community in the mineshaft. At the thought of breaking in and stealing, she refuses, since there’s no way for Zeke to be uncrippled. Everyone starves, but gains one humanity.

Sid’s turn. He finds a rotting carcass that he hopes they can salvage. Normally, everyone would leave him to die, but since they’re starving too, they pitch in their humanity, Pippa included.

[Roll: Two Successes]

They meet the hardness (1 + Sid’s Hunger adding another 1) and eat the meat… though it didn’t sate them.

Round 3 over.

Also I made some errors. Greer should have Optimistic and the Hope Die Count should be 3.

Sid’s still alive. That disturbs me.

Round four begins with a sickly ambush. As in sick people who need medicine. As much as he wants to, Reed is in no condition to fight, and neither are half of the others. However, if he refuses to fight, then Zeke dies, since he can’t take one more harm and the punishment for refusing is that he has to take a harm. His rational is that each player without humanity spends a Hope Die, with the others chipping in.

[Roll: Four Successes]

They succeed and get a sawed-off shotgun. But they have no hope left… It’s now Blair’s turn. And as fate would have it, tragedy struck. Blair got caught in an accident and needs blood from another person to survive. Zeke, useless cripple that he is, offers to go under the knife, knowing that it will kill him. Zeke dies saving Blair… That is if Greer didn’t slap him for being so melodramatic and goes under the knife, knowing that part of the surgery requires people to be of the same blood type, something he knows he and Blair have in common.

Speaking of, it’s Greer’s turn. He finds food underneath a tree and shares it with the group, redeeming one humanity. Meanwhile, Zeke finds a bear cave. Like Reed, he’s in no condition to fight, so he refuses to scare the bear away. This has him and everyone else recover 1 humanity. Pippa’s turn has her lose her food pouch and gets the group to share food with her, making them starve but gaining one humanity.

Sid’s turn. He finds a diseased stag and because he’s starving, he’s going after it with everything he’s got. For once, even Reed chips in. Moral of the story kids: the only way a person will help a douchebag is if they are hungry.

[Roll: 4 Successes]

And with that, they succeed in hunting the stag down and become less hungry. And with that, round four comes to a close.

We are now at the final round… I want to say something, but I don’t want to jinx myself. Reed finds himself in the same situation. As much as he really wants to leave someone alone, refusing to do anything will result in Zeke getting killed. See, they got infected with a skin disease and this guy has the antidote but refuses to share. So everyone spends their humanity and Reed gets his shotgun out.

[Roll: 6 successes]

They manage to get him and take his pack, healing themselves. Then Blair gets herself in the worst pickle ever. She got her arm crushed by a boulder and Greer has to amputate his granddaughter’s arm off. Doing that must have caused something to go in Greer, since when a woman comes to steal medicine from them, Greer politely takes her to the back with a shotgun and guns her down like a rabid Mastador.

And then we get to some hard moments. Because there’s no hope on the table to draw from and no humanity to use, Zeke can’t do the task of raiding people in a cave by the waterfall. Which means everyone suffers hunger. The next cards are also “act or starve” cards, which results in everyone starving to death because the lead player can’t act and is forced to avoid the thing altogether.

That was… a very anti-climatic way to finish the game. But hey, first TPK on Solo RPG Voyages, so that’s gotta count for something, right? So, my thoughts on the game? It’s… good. It makes for a good solo game. But personally, playing it with a group of people is better. This game falls into the category of Party RPGs. RPGs where it’s a pick-up-and-play style game that can be started and finished in one session and is made to have tons of laughs, like Fiasco, Dread, or Snakes on a Plane.

I do like how the situations can click together and make a narrative without having to write one up. A good example would be with Greer slowly losing his humanity upon cutting his granddaughter’s arm off. It definitely makes for a good cooperative game with RPG elements to it. I say pick it up. It’s enjoyable solo, but it’s most enjoyable playing it in a group.

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