Let's face it, Superheroes can be silly. Many of the the Champions games I ran sort of went that way. It was the players perception of the Superhero genre that did it. Many watched too much Superfriends in the 70's and haven't read a recent comic book. Even if you have read a recent comic (or graphic novel), you might go the other way and expect something more gritty than perhaps the other player do. “Gestalt : The Hero Within” is an interesting take on the superhero genre.
The Gestalt world is assumed to be the real world with some changes. It not suppose to be really light nor is it suppose to be extremely dark. The author makes that very clear in the text. But perhaps, I'm getting ahead of myself. Let start with defining a few things. Gestalts are the beings with superpowers. They all were granted powers or were created by the collective unconscious. They are are in many ways aspects of an idea. In game terms, Gestalts tend to fall in certain Archetypes. This has a side effect of that not all Gestalts are superheroes or supervillans as the powers they have are not really useful to that kind of life. This can create some interesting NPC and situations.
If you read comic, you know that there is ton of history for Supers. This includes but not limited to World War II and even earlier. Gestalt sides steps that issue by saying Gestalts only came into being since 1980's. Since Gestalts are aspects of things, there are quite a few things that don't exist such as “real” magic. While Gestalts may look like magical or mystical creatures or beings, they are not. There are also no “Radiation Accidents”. This is not a bad thing. Gestalt is setting about supers being aspects of concepts. Since Gestalts just sort of come into being, you don't have to worry about some long explanation of why your character got superpowers.
Of course what Gestalt does have is a lot of background on the Gestalt Universe. This includes a bit about the various Superheroes and Supervillains that populate the Gestalt Universe. Being aspects of concept, they run the gambit of slightly silly, such as America Man to slightly terrifying, such as The Blood Red King.
Out of the entire book, My personally favorite is the Worldwide Gestalt Population Survey. It provides one of the more useful insights. First it gives an estimate of the Gestalt population. The number is large enough to make you understand that that while rare, there are quite a few Gestalts out there. It even gives you an idea of how many you might find, if you are going to running a Gestalt Campaign in say the UK instead of the US.
You may have noticed that I haven't talk a lot about system. That's because the Gestalt settings is available for two different games systems. One is the Hero System (or Champions), the system I love, but rarely can get anyone to play and the other Mutant and Masterminds (via Superlink). Both Versions have the same exact history and background material. The only difference is the templates for the Gestalt aspects.
Overall, I found this to be a very interesting take on the conventional superhero genre.
It should be noted that parts of the Gestalt setting have been available on the Internet and at one point Gestalt was suppose to be published by Hero Games as part of the Hero Plus line, but the Hero Plus line did not have very good sales. Luckily for you , you can now get it from Black Wyrm Games.
Want to learn more about Gestalt? Read on...
- Atomic Array: Episode 019: Gestalt
- Game Cryer: Gestalt Review
- Mad Brew Labs: Super Human Roleplaying in the World of Heroes, Archetypes and Modern Myths
- Uncle Bear: Gestalt: A Mythic Supers Setting
- All Games Considered: The Hero Within
- A Butterfly Dreaming: The Pieces of Gestalt
- The Bone Scroll: 'G' is for Gestalt
Drop by Black Wyrm Games today!