The Indie Hack (TIH) does things quite a bit differently from anything I’ve played before. Many of the changes are clearly inspired by certain other systems, but they're twisted into something new, and something that works quite well when put together the way it is here.
TIH has a very lightweight rules system. It's primarily based around the allocation of "Details" by the GM and other players. Any conflict or action resolved through dice simply leads to granting the winning party the right to assert some facts about the scene at hand. This lead us to some really cool collaboration, and the way its set up, any time the dice are rolled, something is sure to happen.
The health mechanic is another interesting take on a theme I’ve seen elsewhere. Forgoing hit points, Health is basically a countdown, but each wounding tick is given a descriptive tag, which directly influences the fiction. Wounds matter. And while we didn't see it in gameplay in our one quick session, healing looks even better, as those wounds are transitioned into Scars, rather than magically healed away and forgotten. We also failed to encounter death of a PC in the system (yet), but there is a cool system in place for anyone who falls in combat, but survives to tell of it....
Character generation is quick, and only calls for the players to make a few choices and establish a few details; the rest will be discovered with play. With characters generate and then the establishment of basic Relationship facts, we found ourselves ready to go out into the world and see what we could do. It turns out, we could do pretty much anything we wanted. The rules and character choices gave us just enough foothold on the story to start engaging each other and the world, and never felt constrictive.
The book itself is a fantastic read, and filled with beautiful, original art that really helped put me in a mindset for some dark fantasy adventuring. At only thirty pages, the book introduces brief, sometimes ambiguous rules and gives the players just enough to have fun sorting it out. The book touches briefly on a provocative trinity of goddesses, fates of a sort, and asserts that there are "Dark Powers" that might be willing to help desperate heroes, for a cost... but the author leaves each group plenty of room to spin these basic elements into a setting and story of their own.
The only thing i find myself wanting from TIH (other than more play sessions!) is support for GMs - advice and perhaps a worksheet to help approach running this game. The mechanics call for the implementation of quite a few Details, descriptors that apply to setting, people, things... anything and everything might get a Detail with a creative group. I'm daunted by the idea of running the game, particularly for anything longer than a one-shot, where I want to keep the previous session relevant to whatever we do next. I'm sure with experience, I'd get use to it; but hopefully good advice pours in as more players pick up TIH and start sharing their own experiences.
If you're looking for something quick, clever, innovative, and fun, give The Indie Hack a look!
[5 of 5 Stars!]