Originally Posted at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2012/01/17/tabletop-review-homicidal-transients/
What can I say about a game called Homicidal Transients, really? It’s a game that puts you in the role of, well, a homicidal transient – complete with all of your favourite tramp-related tasks: begging, lying, fighting, travelling, fighting huge f’n monsters…wait, what? Well, it wouldn’t be a role playing game without huge f’n monsters (unless you just wanted a pen and paper version of Bumfights – and I don’t think anyone really wants that).
Developed by A. Miles Davis and bought to fruition by a successful Kickstarter campaign, Homicidal Transients puts the player, as said, in the role of a homicidal transient. It also gives the GM open slather in where to put those transients, and why. In the rulebook are some basic ideas for monsters and locations (the stock standard Oldtown), but these are just jumping off points for one’s own creativity.
I haven’t had a chance to sit down and actually play a game with the HT system, but it seems like it isn’t that hard to set up. Especially due to its “rules light” make up. For those not in the know (and if you aren’t, you are probably in the wrong place), “rules light” means exactly that. Heck, the whole core manual is only twelve pages long. Plus, it’s up to you what die style you use; there’s no percentile checks or THAC0 here. It’s just a simple, “roll die, add modifiers, highest number wins” mechanic, which really speeds up gameplay, adding to the game’s “play anywhere” feel. While there is talk of D4, D6, D8 and D10 throughout the rulebook, these can easily be modified to whatever your chosen system is.
Open World: Homicidal Transients has no real settings in place (as of this edition), which can lead to a game that is only limited by the GM’s imagination. Want to set a game in New York/London/Sydney/Yourhometown? You can do that. Want to create a whole new town from the ground up? You can do that too. Want to set this as a brief comical aside in your Dungeons and Dragons realm? Why the hell not – go for it. As it says in the rulebook, “Instead of some kind of deep social commentary, the game works better as a joke, but you do whatever you want.”
Grounds for Hilarity: Based just on my read through of the rulebook, there doesn’t seem to be a whole heck of a lot to the game, besides murder, murder, hobo behaviour, murder, murder, and murder. Based on my experience as it pertains to games with only one clear task – hilarity happens.
No Boundaries: Sure, if you are just looking for a quick and easy game, or you have a good DM, this can lead to some rather interesting adventures. On the other hand, I do know a lot of role players who only seem to thrive when there are solid walls put in place – and this does not seem like the game for them.
No Solid Character Creation Framework: Sure, this may tie in to the “rules light” feel of the game, but not having at least a skeleton system in place for basic character creation is, to me at least, a huge oversight. Sure, there are choosable skills and a points allocation system in place; but, not having a base to start off with is a bit of an oversight (easily correctable, but an oversight nonetheless).
Hopefully, these are issues that can get looked at when the supplemental drops (according to A. Miles Davis, this will be coming in late January).
Having gone into this review not knowing a thing about this game short of, “Hey, cool name,” I can safely say that the project definitely has me interested enough to actually want to play a game or two – even if only to see where it takes us. This isn’t a game that is designed for huge, months-spanning campaigns, more for a quick one or two hour splatterfest while you are waiting for the main game to start.