Icons A to Z: P is for Pets

Furred and Feathered Friends

P is for Pets, the sixteenth installment in the Icons A to Z series, is now available for sale on DriveThruRPG and RPGNow and available to subscribers for download.

P is for Pets takes a look at the “super-pets” staple of the comic books for adding animal allies (and antagonists) to your games, including:

  • Pets as qualities for heroes, providing advantages (and creating trouble!)
  • Pets as servants or sidekicks, including compatibility with Icons Team-Up options
  • Species origins for creating animal characters for players
  • Size modifiers for animals
  • Genre guidelines for a super-pets series or a one-shot “animal transformation” story.

Check it out now, or you can subscribe to the whole Icons A to Z series and get all of the entries as they are released, including all of the previous entries to-date!

Find Me at GenCon!

Gen-Con-LogoIt’s that time of the year again, when everyone in the tabletop gaming industry tags everything on their to-do lists as “must be done before” or “can wait until after” – GenCon!

I’ll be in attendance for what will be my 25th GenCon, by my count (I’ve missed two since I first started attending in 1988). If you’ll also be at the “Best Four Days in Gaming” here’s where you are likely to run across me. (Note, this is my public schedule, not counting various social engagements and business-related meetings.)

Thursday, July 30th

  • 2:00 PM: AGE (Adventure Gaming Engine) News & Updates seminar
  • 5:00 PM: GamersTable Awards Dinner

Friday, July 31st

  • 10:00 AM: What’s New With Green Ronin seminar

Saturday, August 1st

  • 6:00 PM: Queer as a Three-Sided Die seminar (LGBT gamers)

Otherwise, I am likely to be found at the Green Ronin Publishing booth, hawking copies of Fantasy AgeTitansgrave: Ashes of ValkanaMutants & Masterminds, A Song of Ice & Fire Roleplaying, my own Icons Superpowered Roleplaying, and other fine Green Ronin products. If you have a specific need to meet or talk with me, you can drop me a line about setting up a time or come by the booth and take you chances.

Icons A to Z: O is for Organizations

They Are Legion

O is for Organizations, the fifteenth installment in the Icons A to Z series, is now available for sale on DriveThruRPG and RPGNow and available to subscribers for download.

O is for Organizations offers additional guidelines and traits for handling organizations in Icons, including:

  • Agents, a basic agent stock agent character, and variants
  • Using Combined Effort with agents
  • Organizations as Qualities, activated for advantage or trouble
  • Organization abilities, including attributes, specialties, and qualities of their own.

Check it out now, or you can subscribe to the whole Icons A to Z series and get all of the entries as they are released, including all of the previous entries to-date!

Icons A to Z: N is for Narrative Abilities

Story Matters

N is for Narrative Abilities, the fourteenth installment in the Icons A to Z series, is now available for sale on DriveThruRPG and RPGNow and available to subscribers for download.

N is for Narrative Abilities offers variant resolution systems focused more on character role in the story and overall outcomes rather than quantified ability levels, including:

  • Narrative Abilities: No ability or power levels, just qualities and a roll of the dice.
  • Automatic Success and Failure
  • Narrative Damage: Including options for strain and recovery
  • Consequences: Trading a lasting effect to shrug off some damage.

Check it out now, or you can subscribe to the whole Icons A to Z series and get all of the entries as they are released, including all of the previous entries to-date!

Icons A to Z: M is for Magic

Master the Mystic Arts!

M is for Magic, the thirteenth installment in the Icons A to Z series, is now available for sale on DriveThruRPG and RPGNow and available to subscribers for download (check the file updates of your subscription).

M is for Magic looks at the mystic arts for superheroes, including:

  • Details on the Magic power, including Novice, Adept, and Master degrees
  • Schools of Magic as qualities
  • Types of Magical Devices
  • The Astral Plane: How to get there and run adventures there
  • Magical Creatures: dragons, elementals, and gargoyles!

The powers of magic are yours to commands! Check it out now, and you can subscribe to the whole Icons A to Z series and get all of the entries as they are released, including all of the previous entries to-date!

Icons Q&A

Additional Icons questions (again slighted edited for clarity and brevity):

Is it possible to “overburden” a quality by adding too much to it, such as “Former Right Hand of the Nephilim King of Deepworld”?

It’s possible, and the creation of qualities is far more art than science. Ultimately, it’s up to the GM and the players to agree as to when a quality is “too much” or becomes unwieldy or might need to be broken up into separate, “smaller” qualities. That said, I personally don’t find “Former Right Hand of the Nephilim King of Deepworld” to be such a quality. It’s a trifle long, yes, but still reasonably focused, in my opinion, at least as much as “Former Favorite Member of the League of Assassins” or “Heir to an Ancient and Honorable Legacy” or the like.

If a Power has Extra Powers, and the “main” power is Nullified or affected in some way, are the extras affected?

Depends on the interaction of the power and the nullifying (or other effect) but often the answer is “yes.” If my ability to fly, surround myself in fire, and shoot flame blasts all come from my Fire Control power, and it’s nullified, I lose the ability to do all of those things. If my flight, super-strength, super-senses, and damage resistance all come from my power armor and it is nullified, then I might reasonably retain some or all of my damage resistance (assuming it’s part of the physical make-up of the armor and not something like a force field), but I’d lose the other powers. Ultimately, it’s up to the GM, but nullifying the power and all of its extras at once is completely “fair” and within the rules.

For Mind Control, how do you use the quality “Controlled”?

The primary use is activating the quality to cause trouble for the target in the form of a compulsion (Icons AE, p. 34), which “can also originate from outside influence,” such as Mind Control. For example, “because you are controlled, you are are compelled to attack your teammates!”

As with other instances of trouble, the target can refuse, awarding the controlling player a Determination Point (or costing a DP and denying the player a DP award for the trouble, in the case of a hero being controlled). As the Mind Control description states, one of the target’s other qualities can also be activated to recover and attempt to shake off the power’s effect.

Wouldn’t it usually then be the case then that on the very next page, the hero would activate a Quality, spend the DP just earned from being compelled, and shake off the Mind Control?

Sure, if the player doesn’t want to roleplay being mind controlled to rack up some additional DP, then that’s the player’s prerogative.

Spending the DP to activate a quality to recover from the Mind Control gives the character an immediate new Willpower vs. Mind Control test. Note, however, this is what is happening anyway at the moderate success degree (a new opposed test every page) or every (Mind Control level) pages with a major success.

Also note that spending the DP to recover just grants an extra test, it doesn’t provide improved effort or any other benefit on that test, so it entirely depends on the level of the character’s Willpower vs. the Mind Control level in terms of chances of success. It’s actually possible for a breakout attempt to worsen the situation, if the hero flubs the test and the mind-controller gets an even higher degree of success!

But, yes, it does mean a hero with a Willpower level close to (or better than) the opponent’s Mind Control level has a good chance of spending a DP and shaking it off in just one page. That’s intentional and some that, say, an Amazing Willpower character should be able to do when faced with a Great level of Mind Control. It also means a low-Willpower hero’s best tactic is to wait and rack up DPs from being mind controlled in order to have an improved chance of shaking it off later and having some extra DP left over to take down the villain when that happens.

We had someone hold a villain at gun point and create a “Covered” quality with a maneuver. If the villain moved, would it be a fair use of advantage to allow the hero to attack?

Sure. It’s roughly equivalent to the target suffering from lost panel trouble.

Is it okay to have a specialty that grants a bonus to tests to learn a quality?

Sure, depending on the specialty and the nature of the qualities involved. Psychology is good for learning about personality traits and psychological quirks, Occult for figuring out supernatural qualities (like the inherent qualities of a supernatural creature), Martial Arts or Military might be good for learning qualities related to a fighting style or particular background (such as “Trained at the Seven Dragon Temple” or the like). Encourage players to creatively apply their specialties and give them the bonus if there’s some reasonable connection.

Is attempting a maneuver an action? How about attempting to learn a quality? If the attempt fail, is the character’s action still used?

Maneuvering is listed in the Actions section of the Taking Action chapter, so attempting a maneuver, either to create or learn about a quality, is an action, whether the attempt succeeds or fails.

One option I’ve applied with good results is to allow players to trade one free activation from the maneuver for the ability to take another immediate action following a successful maneuver.

Example: Hangman makes a Coordination + Athletics test to apply a “Distracted” quality to Hotshot. He gets a major success, good for two free activations. Hangman’s player asks to use one of those activations to take an immediate second action to attempt to use the Noose of Justice to snatch the flame-gun from his foe’s grasp, using the second activation on the Distracted quality for advantage (and Improved Effort) on the attempt.

If a person is bound or trapped and uses a power to escape, do they still get to act on the same page?

If they get a massive success on the escape attempt, yes (see EscapingIcons AE, p. 134). Otherwise, no, the escape attempt uses the character’s action for that panel.

I apply an option that a major success in escaping a partial hold is equivalent to a massive success in escaping a complete hold (allowing the character to either apply a reverse hold or take another action).

Icons A to Z: L is for Lost Worlds

Explore Fantastic Lost Worlds

L is for Lost Worlds, the twelfth installment in the Icons A to Z series, is now available for sale on DriveThruRPG and RPGNow and available to subscribers for download.

L is for Lost Worlds looks at various “lost” and fantastic settings in superhero worlds, including a series of tables for randomly creating lost world settings for your Icons adventures, including:

  • Locations from Hidden in Plain Sight to Underwater or Underground
  • Contents from Hazards to Treasure and Weirdness
  • Inhabitants from Aliens to Dinosaurs and more
  • What conceals the lost world, and what causes or maintains it

Endless potential lost worlds of adventure await!

Check it out now, or you can subscribe to the whole Icons A to Z series and get all of the entries as they are released, including all of the previous entries to-date!