Role Playing Game (2006). Exile Game Studio. Designed by Jeff Combos, Jason Carl, Jim Cook, Chris Goe, Tyler Running Deer.
Hollow Earth Expedition is a light-hearted homage to Pulp magazine stories describing the perilous exploration of a Hollow Earth, and their predecessors in the work of such authors as Jules Verne. The tone, which is both exuberant and knowing, is perhaps most reminiscent of Richard A Lupoff's Circumpolar! (1984), though the game's world is literally hollow rather than a flattened doughnut with a hole in the centre. Hollow Earth Expedition is set in the 1930s; as in Justice, Inc (1984), much effort is devoted to encouraging a style of play appropriate to the pulp fiction of the time. There is more to this than including two-fisted action scenes with Dinosaurs, however. The intention is to foster a spirit of romantic adventure, in a world where brains can be as important as brawn. As in Torg (1990), Gamemasters are expected to take a linear approach to the ongoing Interactive Narrative, with the goal of creating a fast-paced "cinematic" story.
The inner Earth depicted in the game has many entrances, and references many sources. Perhaps the most important is Edgar Rice Burroughs' Pellucidar; the subterranean setting is a similar Lost World, full of anachronistic survivals from earlier eras. Extinct megafauna coexist with dinosaurs and pirates who became lost in the Bermuda Triangle and with conquistadors who wandered into the wrong cave system, beneath the light of an eternal sun. Unlike Burroughs, however, the designers also include the remains of a superscientific Atlantean civilization, much coveted by Nazi secret societies from the land above. Many of these visitors from the surface bring their own fantastic devices with them, from drilling machines capable of penetrating the Earth's crust to steam-powered suits of armour. Hollow Earth Expedition is an excellently polished RPG; while its form and content may not be vastly original, it is a striking example of enthusiastic and professional Game Design. [NT]
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