Being a long time comic book collector and fan of superhero games in general, I’ve probably bought every super rpg going back to the classic Marvel Superheroes and Villains and Vigilantes. So I sure have my heavy list of favorites, and the Hearts and Souls rpg ranks right up at the top with its unique innovations and mechanics.
It may seem a little unorthodox at first, but it really does work in play. Rules such as monologues and stress triggers/events are great for re-creating the feel and flow of an actual comic book in a simple and quick fashion without relying on fixed stats like hit points, fatigue points, time and distance measurements, etc. The basic structure allows you to attempt any action, but does not impede the flow of the game. Also, you can create just about any character you can imagine.
I really prefer these types of games over numbers-heavy, where there’s a rule for every type of action a character tries. While it is quite freeform and rules-lite, and does require a good deal of input from the GM and players, it’s also a heck of a lot of fun.
If you like number crunching (and some players do, nothing wrong with that) then you probably won’t like this game. But as a GM with time constraints, I’m always looking for supplements and game systems that make my life easier while stressing actual role playing. I really feel that H&S delivers both.
In the old DC Heroes game, one of the core concepts was developing sub-plots, which are the actual day-to-day problems that heroes face in their lives outside of their superhero personas. In the sessions using H&S that I’ve run, I will allow players an “anti” stress point (or hero point as my group calls it) for creating interesting sub plots that we can role play and develop as the characters progress.
This way they can negate one point of stress they accumulate later on in the game, in addition to using monologues. The game system presented here is perfect for this. It has really helped make our sessions fun and interesting.
I truly hope that Tim continues to develop and expand upon H&S. I would love to see more; definitely worth a look and the price is very reasonable