Gestalt: The Hero Within is an original campaign world, written by Scott Bennie, for use with either the 5th Edition Hero System or Mutants & Masterminds 2nd Edition (along with the Ultimate Power sourcebook). It is a mammoth book; with the PDF weighing in at just shy of 350 pages and it’s published by Black Wyrm Games.
Many gamers avoid the short stories many game supplements include to set the atmosphere and tone of the game, yet this is usually the first thing I read when evaluating any material. Why? Well it establishes what kind of game the designer(s) was aspiring to create. This is especially true of campaign settings, where the aesthetics are the primary objective of the product. I think Gestalt: The Hero Within hit its mark.
The introductory fiction for Gestalt is titled In Mourning and chronicles the origin of a super called Lament, who is the Gestalt (or archetype) of Eternal Grief. The tale of her origin, dealing with her gestalt abilities, and learning to master them is very graphic and definitely sets the mood for the campaign world. Lament’s story is a hard look at how superhumans (known as gestalts) of Gestalt-Earth are the living embodiment of their archetype.
The world is recommended for experienced GMs and players, and after reading about Lament, I agree. Not because Lament’s origin is rather graphic, but because I feel only mature gamers could take advantage of Gestalt’s true potential as an exploration of the human psyche. Gestalts are the personification of the human condition, and that is where the strength of the material lies. Of course, that being said, a campy style campaign could still probably fit right at home on Gestalt-Earth, I just think it would be under using the material.
Gestalt brings a unique (or at least I haven’t encountered it before) origin for superhuman powers. The source of all gestalt abilities stems from a source called the Gestalt Dimension, which is a realm where the collective minds of humanity generates large amounts of psychic energy. This psychic energy is the power source for all Gestalts, of which there are three types: Pure, Bonded, and Chain.
Pure Gestalts are being spawned completely from the Gestalt Dimension is pure psychic energy contained in purely fabricated forms (usually human). Bonded Gestalts are humans that have merged with psychic entities and serve as the entity’s link to the world. Chain Gestalts are humans created by other Gestalts, are usually controlled by the creating Gestalt. Most gestalts were created during one five Gestalt Waves. These waves of pure psychic energy originated from the Gestalt Dimension and tore through the world creating superhumans in its wake.
The Gestalt world is described as “a serious campaign world with a lot of really dark places, some really light moments, and a lot of genuine weirdness.” It doesn’t focus on any single age of comics (Golden, Silver, etc.), but takes what worked best from each and uses it. Gestalt-Earth is a super-heavy world, but one where many gestalts remain unnoticed (such as the Gestalt of the Perfect Cucumber Salad). There are those that where tights, and those who don’t, and most normal people fade into the background.
Gestalt: The Hero Within includes chapters on character creation, history, new heroes & villains, extraterrestrials, the Gestalt Dimension, Gestalt influence (entertainment, politics, educations, space, space, technology, public opinion, and religion), and even two adventures. If the world of Gestalt sounds interesting to you, I recommend that you head over to Black Wyrm Games and download the Gestalt Player’s Guide for free (it’s under the Extras tab)and take the setting for a test drive.
Want to learn more about Gestalt? Read on…
- Atomic Array: Episode 019: Gestalt
- Game Cryer: Gestalt Review
- 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
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