How Did the World End?
The world of Hope Inhumanity is set in the aftermath of some cataclysmic event. Civilization and most of the infrastructure that kept it running was wiped out very suddenly. How this happened isn’t critical to play, but you’re certainly free to work it into your game if you’d like. The options are endless. It doesn’t even have to be global or continental in scale; you could decide to play in an Ireland devastated by a massive earthquake, trying to travel on foot one hundred miles to the coast to find help. Alternatively, you could go with full-on nuclear devastation or a horrifying global pandemic. What matters is that you are a group of people journeying from a place of devastation and misery toward a destination that offers some hope.
As a group, agree on how the world ended. The characters may not have this knowledge, but knowing the details might be informative when Scenes are being played out. Choose an apocalyptic theme, and use it to add interesting details as you play.
You can find some ideas for starting scenarios on the game website:
Martial Law Expansion Variant
If you’ve purchased and are playing with the Martial Law expansion deck, you can imagine the world you’re journeying through slightly differently. The Scene cards in this expansion assume an environment where civilization has mostly collapsed, at least in a specific country or region, if not the entire world. Remaining loyal military units have been deployed to enforce stability. Rebels, terrorists, bands of criminals, and foreign armies have all filled the power vacuum left by the collapsed state. Your group of players needs to escape and do whatever it takes to survive.
It is recommended that you shuffle all the Martial Law cards in with the core game cards. The backs of the expansion cards are identical to the core game cards, so you won’t know which deck a card comes from when you draw it. The face of each Martial Law card has a blindfolded skull icon so the acting player knows it belongs to the expansion. This is mostly to make it easy to separate the decks again once you’ve finished playing.
A Hope Inhumanity character is defined by a player’s actions, Personality, Relationships with others, and Traits. You don’t need a dedicated character sheet, per se, but it’s recommended that you jot down some key information, such as a name, a description (including age and former occupation, if relevant), and perhaps motivations.
Shuffle the deck of Personality cards and deal one (1) card to each player. Place your Personality card face up on the table in front of you. A Personality reflects an effect that will be ongoing throughout the game. It’s often some kind of flaw or limitation that will make post-apocalyptic life just that much less simple.
Shuffle the deck of Trait cards and deal three (3) cards to each player.
Traits remain secret until you play them. In a challenging situation like the end of the world, we often discover things about our friends and loved ones (not to mention ourselves) that never would have surfaced during the day-to-day humdrum of life-that-was. Such things are represented by Traits. These cards give your character one-time abilities or advantages that help you and/or your companions scratch by when the going gets tough.
You can play your Traits at any time, regardless of whose turn it is (unless the card states otherwise). The Trait takes effect as soon as it’s played, subject to the text on the card. Once your card has been played, discard it face up near your Humanity. This forms a simple record of your character’s revealed nuances. Trait cards do not represent ongoing effects; they are single-use advantages or one-off game- changers. A spent Trait card is not replaced.
After everyone has their Traits, randomly draw a Relationship card and place it openly on the table between you and the player to your left. That card outlines how that player is bound to you and what effects such an association entails. Discuss the Relationship with the affected player to work out the details. Every Relationship card grants benefits or penalties to both parties equally.
Now that you have a Personality, Traits and a Relationship, figure out who your character is. Come up with a name. Decide how old they are. What did they do before the world went to hell? How did they end up with the other characters in the group? Write on a scrap of paper or an index card the character’s name and age, as well as a brief description, and place it in front of you so everyone can see it. Don’t reveal the contents of your Trait cards, but you may hint at them in your description. Take turns introducing your character to everyone at the table, and discuss how the group came together. For example, they might have all been at a hospital, as staff, visitors, or patients, and perhaps everyone lived off the hospital supplies until they were depleted, forcing the band to leave together to find a more permanent and sustaining locale.
At this point, every character should have one (1) Personality card, three (3) Trait cards, a Relationship card positioned between each of the players at the table, as well as each player’s five (5) Humanity dice and the Hope dice pool.