One of the weaknesses of RPGs compared to other tabletop games can be the high levels of investment a group has to put in before starting to play a game. While the majority of board games aside from the most complex can be set up and ready to go within half an hour, many RPGs need hours of character creation, not to mention however long people need to read through the game text to get a handle on how the game’s system works. With What Ho, World! we’re looking for something much breezier, to match the tone of the genre and make it easier to pick up and play.
Characters in What Ho, World! have three things that define them – their appearance and moves, their place in society, and their assets and needs. Going with an entirely card-based game makes it easy to streamline these three steps, and means that the players won’t need to need to refer to a book or make notes while making their choices.
First, appearance and moves. Each character archetype comes with its own mini-deck giving their basic description and appearance options to select, and 5 move cards to choose from – your 3 unchosen move cards then flip over into tokens to spend to get extra effects from moves.
Second, relationships. Each archetype also has two of these and each is unbalanced – one is in your favour, while the other works against you. For example, the Gentleman’s Gentleman is implicitly trusted by their employer, but struggles to keep their composure in the presence of someone else. Your character card reminds you how you can use your positive relationship, while your negative relationship card is passed to the player who it’s with.
Finally, each character in What Ho, World! has Assets they control and can use in game, and Goals they need to meet. Assets are things like A Fabulous Motor Car, An Engagement Ring, or A Journal Full of Secrets – things which can help you in your plans, but might need a bit of lateral thinking. Goals, on the other hand, are obligations or desires your character needs to fulfill, and could be anything from Get Out of Debt to Marry Above Your Station. They come paired on cards, and can be independent or linked (i.e. Asset: A Precocious Ward/Goal: Get the Ward Out of Trouble). Each player gets two cards, and should flesh them out and tweak them to fit into their character concept and their social position.
By the end of this process each player has:
- A named, described character with two unique abilities and a pool of resources to spend.
- Relationships with at least two other characters.
- Assets to draw upon and Goals to aim for.
Ending up with a card spread looking something like this: