Icons A to Z: H is for Headquarters

There’s No Place Like Home

H is for Headquarters, the eighth installment in the Icons A to Z series, is now available for sale on DriveThruRPG and RPGNow and available to subscribers for download.

H is for Headquarters looks at bases, hideouts, and HQs, including:

  • Bases as qualities, activated for advantage … or to cause trouble!
  • Bases as devices, with a level and features of their own
  • Bases as installations, with their own abilities and qualities
  • Team and individual headquarters

Three different options to suit your own own Icons game and play style!

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!

Katanas, Trenchcoats & Charity

So, by now, my small contribution to Ryan Macklin’s ’90s gaming magnum opus Katanas & Trenchcoats is out there. It all got started quite innocently (as these things do) when I replied to a Macklin tweet, astonished there wasn’t a “Katanas & Trenchcoats” RPG, given how popular the concept of adding Highlander-style immortals to nearly every RPG was back in the ’90s, especially White Wolf’s “World of Darkness” setting.

Ryan took it upon himself to assemble an A-Team of game industry talent (plus, you know…me) to bring this vision into being, planned, of course, for an April 1st release. The plan was always to donate profits from the game to charity, particularly the Seattle Children’s Hospital. Ever the professional, Ryan offered to pay us contributors, and I accepted so I could donate (folding in some of my Ad Infinitum profit) to The Trevor Project, a charity and cause important to me, and to countless LGBTQ youth. Also ever the gentleman, Ryan followed that news by offering to donate to the Trevor Project as well. Should anyone else be so inclined, please visit their donation link and help out.

Third-Party Icons on Kickstarter

KickstarterAs you may be aware, Icons has an open and free compatibility license for third-party publishers. Two are currently running Kickstarter campaigns for their projects:

Stark City Stomping Grounds – The Silver District for the popular Stark City setting from Fainting Goat Games. The new product is illustrated by Icons artist Dan Houser.

The Super Villain Handbook for both Icons and the SUPERS! RPG, by Jason “Dr. Comics” Tondro, “the definitive guide to comic book super villains”.

Check ’em out and give them your support, if you can!

Icons A to Z: G is for Golden Age

“Keep ’em flyin’, heroes!”

G is for Golden Age, the seventh installment in the Icons A to Z series, is now available for sale on DriveThruRPG and RPGNow and available to subscribers for download.

G is for Golden Age looks at the Golden Age of comic books, from 1939 through to the 1950s, and how to create Icons games set in that period and genre, including:

  • World War II: On the Home Front, On the Front Lines, and Behind Enemy Lines
  • War Comics and the Wartime Series
  • Golden Age Qualities
  • Golden Age Devices
  • “Dropping in” on the Golden Age via time- or dimensional travel.

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!

D&D: Acting on Inspiration

It’s D&D game night, and the characters are trapped by their vile foes, thrown in irons, and imprisoned in the deepest dungeon.

“I want to break my chains!” says the player of the brawny fighter.

Having already made note of the “Manacles” section from chapter 5 of the Player’s Handbook, the DM says, “Roll a Strength check.”

… and the die comes up a 1.

Now what? Does Brawny Fighter get to try again? The section on “Ability Checks” in the Dungeon Master’s Guide—specifically “Multiple Ability Checks”—presents two options:

  1. If the character can try again, taking about ten times the usual time to do something ensures success. However, no amount of trying again allows a character to turn an impossible task into a successful one.
  2. In other cases, failing an ability check makes it impossible to make the same check to do the same thing again.

So, which is this? Neither option is particularly appealing: If the strong character can’t break his chains, he can never succeed? On the other hand, it’s a bit anticlimactic to say that just taking a minute (10 rounds) is enough for him to break the chains automatically. “You can try again later” is a perfectly valid answer from the Dungeon Master—who gets the decide when “later” is—but is there a game-system middle ground for this kind of situation? Turns out there is: inspiration.

Our Hero can’t try to break the chains, or figure out the maze, or overcome the obstacle without a breakthrough, without being inspired. Inspiration draws on your character’s personality traits, the things the character cares about. It represents when your character is truly motivated. It’s also a great benchmark for those times when your character has the gumption to try again, and succeed this time, since the added effect of inspiration is you can now make the roll with advantage!

In fact, you can even extend the idea of “acting on inspiration” to include all forms of advantage. Essentially, it’s the shift from being at a disadvantage, under normal conditions, or having advantage that opens up a new opportunity. So if a character who is at a disadvantage tries something and fails, the character can try again when no longer at a disadvantage. The situation has changed. Likewise, a character who fails under normal conditions, gets to try again upon gaining advantage, with a better chance of success. In this case, inspiration just represents one way of gaining advantage to change the conditions of the test and try again.

The best part of acting on inspiration is it is a matter of motivation. In order to get the needed inspiration, players need to look to their characters’ personality traits and play to them. What is going to motivate our brawny fighter to really try to escape? Is it a threat to a loved one, duty to a sword liege, revenge, or simply proving that nothing and no one can hold him prisoner? Likewise, going with advantage as an opportunity to try again encourages the players to pro-actively change the situation, rather than just waiting the appointed time to make another die-roll.

If at first you don’t succeed in your next D&D game, consider acting on inspiration.

Now Available: Urban Jungle

It’s a Jungle Out There!

Free samples of garden greenery from the annual flower show—what could be wrong with that? Plenty, if the gift-giver is none other than the criminal Creeper, master of plant-life, with a new scheme to take over the city! Even worse, when the Creeper doesn’t know what’s really going on behind the scenes. It’s survival of the fittest in … The Urban Jungle!

A standalone adventure for Icons, written and illustrated by Dan Houser, now available from DriveThruRPG and RPGNow!

Icons A to Z: F is for Fear

F is for Fear, the sixth installment in the Icons A to Z series, is now available for sale on DriveThruRPG and RPGNow and available to subscribers for download.

“F is for Fear” looks at fear and intimidation, including:

  • Fearsome Qualities
  • Intimidation
  • Fear and Madness
  • Fear-based Powers
  • Mob Scenes

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!