Icons: Heroes by the Numbers

I’ll be honest: I’m not a fan of the point-based hero creation option in Icons (p. 68 of the Assembled Edition). “Rolled-up” heroes is one of the reasons I wrote the game, and the point-buy option runs counter to that, plus I already designed a much more comprehensive point-buy system for superheroes (this lil’ RPG called Mutants & Masterminds). Still, it’s something playtesters all but demanded, both when the game was originally written, and when I put together the Assembled Edition so, it’s in there as an option.

Naturally, the most oft-asked question about the newly released Assembled Edition? About point-based hero creation … naturally. That being:

How many points do extras cost?

The Point-Based Hero Creation sidebar in Assembled Edition says: “Apply power extra and limits to powers normally.”

Since an extra substitutes for a rolled power, with the point-based approach, an extra instead increases the power’s cost per level by 1. In essence, the extra costs points equal to the power’s level.

Example: Creating Miss Tikal (Icons, p. 215) with the point-buy option, her Incredible Magic (level 7) costs 7 points. She has three instances of the Mastery extra (three powers she can call upon without a test or preparation). Each of those extras also costs 7 points, so her Magic costs a total of (7 + 7 + 7 + 7) or 28 points. With 24 points in abilities and two Expert specialties (2 points each), Miss Tikal is a 56-point character.

In place of the third benefit listed on p. 84 of Assembled Edition, a limit can reduce a power’s cost per level by 1 (to a minimum of 1 point per level). In essence, a limit can allow an extra to be added to the power “for free”. The increase to rolled level benefit doesn’t apply, since powers have no rolled levels in the point-based option.

5 thoughts on “Icons: Heroes by the Numbers

  1. I like Assembled for what it can do, but having the option in made me pretty happy as well. I have players who will rage quit if they roll too badly and this supplies them with the option to tailor while the rest of us have more fun.

  2. I’m curious–why the dislike? I’m about to run my first game of Icons, so the system is new, but it seems like you could end up with some really unbalanced stuff.

    • One of the reasons I wrote Icons is the fun of random hero creation, and the point-spending system takes away from that. The one in Icons is deliberately fast-and-loose so as to take up the minimum of space. If I want to do point-spending hero design, I use Mutants & Masterminds, which was designed for that sort of thing. If a random-rolled Icons character looks like a serious problem for the game I’m about to run, I’d ask the play to roll up another one, although I have to say that hasn’t happened yet: The most “unbalanced” characters actually come from players looking to min-max the point system, in my experience.

      • Thanks for the speedy reply! Let me ask a different question–can point buy and random play side by side in Icons, or should I push everyone in one direction?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s