To give you a quick summation of my feelings about Amazing Heroes, consider the fact that I'm on record (probably many times) moaning about my inability to cope with reading large PDF files, being an old geezer who thinks books should be printed on paper.
Then consider the fact that I made the effort to read - and make notes about - the 131-page PDF file of Martin Lloyd's new Amazing Heroes superhero roleplaying game; quite possibly the largest PDF file I have read from cover-to-cover.
Recently Kickstarted into existence, this is Martin's reimagining of his original kid-friendly, introductory, roleplaying system, Amazing Tales, but targeting a slightly older demographic.
Geared towards playing superhero characters (although the freeform nature of the game allows for a great deal of flexibility. For instance, I recenly realised it would be great for a Doctor Who game), the style of play encouraged takes its inspiration from superhero TV shows (particularly The CW ones), such as Flash, Arrow, Supergirl etc, while still drawing on the lore and tropes of comic books, of course.
Expanding on the very simple rules at the heart of Amazing Tales, Amazing Heroes is - in a nutshell - the perfect distillation of the core elements you need for a rules-lite, narrative-led superhero campaign.
Rather than explaining, and cataloguing, every possible superpower, such aspects of the game are left to a combination of player creativity and gamesmaster fiat.
Characters have a handful of attributes, and powers, each allocated a die type.
All checks in the game are player-facing, however if a player fluffs his roll in, say, a combat situation, he doesn't automatically get hurt, rather the situation "escalates", meaning it gets worse for the hero and his colleagues.
Straight off I will say that while I absolutely love this approach, as it addresses a lot of the problems I've had, personally, with overly mechanical superhero roleplaying systems in the past, it's not going to appeal to everyone.
Power gamers, people who talk about "optimum builds", and those who welcome characters that need spreadsheets to keep track of, will be scratching their heads at the bare bones nature of Amazing Heroes.
It's about as far from my own traditional, old school, comfort zone as you can imagine, and yet I can see myself finally getting my own campaign running how I envisage it with these simple little rules.
Their primary function is to encourage interesting story creation at a fast-pace, without the necessity of constant rules-referencing, and that, to me, seems perfect for a game seeking to emulate the bif-bam-pow of superhero comics, TV shows, and movies.
The freeform, storygame, approach of Amazing Heroes means the gamesmaster will often be flying by the seat of their pants, but with creative players the story is also very unlikely to run afoul of a crunchy ruling.
It does require the players to buy in to the superheroic world that they and the gamesmaster are creating, but with the right ensemble, of any age, I believe great things are possible.
The whole book is gorgeously illustrated in full-colour, with the player's section of the rules taking up the first 23 pages, followed by about 22 pages of GM advice (ranging from pacing and villain creation to guidelines on awarding experience so that player-characters can grow through the campaign).
The rest of the book covers the default setting of Storm City, on America's west coast, a plentiful array of example villains, a collection of story hooks (tied to different areas of Storm City), and then two adventures.
When you read through Martin's sample setting and the fully-fleshed out adventures, you can immediately grok the fact that you don't need pages and pages of stats and description to run an exciting and inspirational scenario.
[5 of 5 Stars!]