What Is This?
As a teenager I wasn’t a big fan of superhero comics. It was the comics-coded-four-color-silver-age, and it wasn’t until Watchmen and Dark Knight and DC’s Vertigo line of comics “suggested for mature readers” came along that I came to like superheroes again, learned that superheroes almost always have a human side, learned that you could tell a story about a superhero and it could still be a good story with good writing.
Likewise, I haven’t played many superhero RPG’s. Because most of them shoot for that silver age feel. They’re for kids. There’s lots of punching and explosions and psychic nosebleeds and maybe even talking gorillas but there isn’t much real drama or character.
So I started looking for the game that would do superheroes the way I wanted them, all grown up. Tried Sorcerer ... Capes … Fiasco … Just Heroes … Microscope … these games were all good but not exactly what I was looking for. It looked like if I wanted a superhero game to meet my needs I’d have to make it myself.
A campaign of Joe McDaldno’s Monsterhearts accidentally ended up being the best “superhero” RPG I’d ever played. Ostensibly a game about monsters, I played a character who decided to use his monster-powers for good, who wore a costume and fought crime, and because that’s the way Monsterhearts rolls he ended up doing more harm than good, lost his way, but finally got his shit together and made the ultimate sacrifice to stop a vampire who may not have been all that bad a guy… It. Was. Awesome.
So … I made this. To see if I can recapture some of that lightning and be explicitly superheroic. You could practically call this game “Superhearts” because it owes so much to Joe. Like Monsterhearts and Just Heroes, it’s a hack of Apocalypse World. You’ll need to know how to run Apocalypse World or Monsterhearts or Dungeon World to run this.