Super Hollow?

  • 6 Replies
Super Hollow?
« on: June 25, 2012, 06:01:58 PM »
The last MH game I played in, one of the other characters was a Hollow and I found something vaguely off-putting about the Skin. I think it's too over powered, especially compared to some of the other Skins, but then again it could just be sour grapes because the Hollow was walking over the rest of us! ;-)

Looking at the unique moves for the Hollow though, they do seem to build up into a major advantage. For everyone else, conditions are a slight disadvantage: having them lets other characters get an advantage when acting against you, until you can find a narrative reason for getting rid of them. For the Hollow though, conditions are the path to incredible power!

First, the Hollow marks experience everytime they gain a condition.

Second, they can use a condtion in their own favour, after which it gets erased!

So, with those first two moves, conditions are turned from being a minor inconvenience into a powerful dual-advantage. That's before even getting to the stuff like reducing harm when an opponent doesn't use one of your condtions against you. I suppose players might stop taking the option to give conditions to a Hollow, but that seems very meta-gamey and still acts in the Hollows favour, though not as much.

What am I missing that balances this skin? Where is the price for this power?

Re: Super Hollow?
« Reply #1 on: June 25, 2012, 06:14:58 PM »
The MC should always be demanding the Hollow justify its bonuses from Conditions. Here's what I mean:

Quote from: The Hollow
A Blank Canvas: When you take an action that embodies one of the Conditions that you have, and you let it influence your sense of self, cross it off and add 1 to your roll.

Emphasis mine. The Hollow doesn't just get to go "Suzie called me a slut, and now I'm up on her man, give me a +1." The MC stops the conversation right there and goes, "Okay, so your sense of self is being influenced? Let's talk about that. You've kissed Jake before -- why is this slutty now but not before? Why are you slutty now, but not before? Heck, why is mutual arousal slutty at all? How does it feel to embrace being a slut? Cause, I mean, you're getting that +1 for being influenced so you ARE a slut, right?"

The "balance" or "price" is narrative autonomy. The MC and player should both be honest about the Hollow when playing with it. If the Hollow wants those bonuses, at least for a Blank Canvas anyway, the MC had better be grilling the Hollow and the Hollow will have to deal with how everyone ELSE reacts to what a flimsy-shallow personality they have.

Especially after Example Jake starts telling the rest of the football team what kind of person the Hollow is, and they come calling, especially since it isn't just school rumor.

Your Hollow told you it was true.

Re: Super Hollow?
« Reply #2 on: June 25, 2012, 06:56:42 PM »
Your Hollow told you it was true.

Alfred got to the heart of it.

The Hollow changes what Conditions mean. They get power by re-writing their sense of self, which is a not-to-be-taken-lightly choice.

If you want to have The Hollow not walk all over you, and your name is Rudy, then give them the Condition "Rudy's bitch." They can gain power from it, yeah, but only by incorporating that power-relationship into their sense of self. Win-win.

I don't think that The Hollow is over-powered. If anyone is overpowered, it's The Infernal. Have you seen Strings Attached? You want a new mansion? You get it. You want a perfect girlfriend who's in perfect love with you? You get her. You want a mindless golem bodyguard? It's Free Golem Day in your neighborhood.

But, yeah. The Hollow is a weird skin with some weird mechanical tricks. But I don't really think of it as one of the "powerful" Skins. Can you share some of the situations that cropped up in your game that felt broken or weird or off-putting?

Re: Super Hollow?
« Reply #3 on: June 26, 2012, 02:29:26 AM »
Possibly it was the character interaction, since I was playing the Ghost and relying on getting the blamed condition onto others to power my moves. When I tried that on the Hollow, he a)marked experience from it and then b)copied my moves throughout the game so that he got the benefits of the blamed condition that I had put onto other people. The Hollow really dilutes the uniqueness of the other skins in that way, as well as being really powerful.

I'd say the Infernal is pretty well balanced: sure, you can ask for anything you want, but the MC can set any price she likes as well, so that works out well, plus the Dark Power gets  a bunch more strings on you and the Infernal's  Darkest Self gets triggered when the Dark Power has 5 strings on them, so there's that holding them back as well. Other than letting other players define your character's personality, there don't seem to be any 'brakes' on the Hollow.

Re: Super Hollow?
« Reply #4 on: June 26, 2012, 05:59:06 AM »
When I tried that on the Hollow, he a)marked experience from it and then b)copied my moves throughout the game so that he got the benefits of the blamed condition that I had put onto other people.

It sounds like the Hollow had Better Than Nothing and Mimicry.

Better Than Nothing does allow the Hollow player to simply mark XP whenever they gain a Condition. But having a Condition is generally a pretty negative thing, both mechanically and fictionally. Mechanically it means that other PCs should be taking advantage of that Condition to get +1's on their rolls against the Hollow and MC characters should be using that Condition to act at an Advantage. It also means that the Hollow will generally have to place themselves into dangerous or painful situations to get a Condition.

Looking at the Basic Moves, you can gain a Condition from the 10 up and 7-9 results of being Shut Down, from the 7-9 result of Holding Steady, or the 7-9 results of Gazing Into the Abyss. Being Shut Down means the Hollow would have to irritate another character or poke their nose into someone else's business to the point they piss that person off bad enough to cause that reaction. Having to Hold Steady means the Hollow would have to put themselves into a situation that would call for a such a roll. Those are almost universally going to be tense and/or dangerous situations, which the MC should capitalize on. So yes, the Hollow can just mark XP when they get a Condition, but earning that Condition is not really meant to be fun, easy, or safe. You also can't gain the same Condition more than once. So if you already have the Terrified Condition from Holding Steady you can't gain it again until you've cleared the first one off.

Mimicry only allows the Hollow to keep the "copied" Skin Move if they roll a 10 up with dark, and they also have to lose a move they already have on top of that. So if they were a "new" Hollow with only two Skin moves, they'd either have to lose Better Than Nothing or Mimicry to keep the Ghost's Unresolved Trauma move. If they lose Better Than Nothing they won't be able to mark XP when they gain a Condition, and if they lose Mimicry then they're stuck with that Ghost move for a long, long time.*

In this particular case though, I don't think that the Ghost's Unresolved Trauma move works unless the character with it has actually died. The move reads "When you project the blame and trauma of your death..." So if you haven't died, then I don't see how you can project the blame and trauma of that non-existent death onto someone to satisfy the requirement for that move. None of the Origin options for the Hollow really imply that they died; it's arguable if the Hollow is even alive really, and if you're not alive how can you die?

I guess I'm just echoing Alfred and mcdaldno here; the "brakes" for the Hollow are fictional rather than mechanical. Whatever Condition the Hollow accepts, the MC needs to make sure that all their characters treat them accordingly.

*By the way, I'm curious about something. When the Hollow replaces a move they have with the 10 up result of Mimicry, what happens to the replaced move? Does it get crossed off the Hollow's skin book (assuming it was a Hollow skin move to begin with), or does it get unmarked and left in the book? For example, what happens if I replace Mimicry with another move? Do I lose Mimicry forever, or can I chose to take it again with one of the "Take another Hollow Move" Advancements?
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Re: Super Hollow?
« Reply #5 on: June 26, 2012, 02:25:55 PM »
Man, Better Than Nothing and Unresolved Trauma do sound like a bummer to play off one another. I don't know that I've ever seen those two in a crappy interaction between one another, but I can imagine it.

Care to keep talking through the issue?

How did the Hollow absorb blamed into their sense of self? Does the Hollow now believe that they killed the Ghost?

Re: Super Hollow?
« Reply #6 on: June 26, 2012, 05:34:45 PM »
Man, I'm also playing a Ghost in a game with another Hollow, and I really wanted them to mimic my Vengeful so that I'd have two people knocking off my targets, but no dice.

I think like, there's a lot of different kinds of power in MH. Ghouls can be unkillable, Hollows can have crazy condition-powers/redefine their character on the spot, vampires have no-ifs-mind control. The Hollow seeming particularly over-powered might have to do with the situation of getting a lot of Conditions, similarly to how the Ghoul would feel very overpowered if everyone was getting killed or the vampire if they could milk their mind control for all its worth.